For 63-year-old Kumar Shahani, a weight loss surgery has helped alleviating the risk of pulmonary embolism, a potentially fatal condition that he had developed wherein a blood clot got lodged in an artery of his lung, blocking blood flow to part of the vital organ. Pulmonary embolism can damage part of the lung due to restricted blood flow, decrease oxygen levels in blood, and affect other organs as well. Large or multiple blood clots can be fatal. According to Dr Ramen Goel, senior bariatric surgeon and Director, Center of Bariatric & Metabolic Surgery, Wockhardt Hospitals, obesity was one of the major reasons for Shahani, a Mumbai resident, who weighed 174 kgs, developing the life-threatening condition and urgently needed to reduce weight.
“It is known that morbid obesity can lead to a decreasing lung volume, reduced chest wall and increased respiratory resistance. It also promotes abnormalities in ventilation/perfusion balance causing hypoxemia (low oxygen in the blood) at rest and supine position probably due to the closure of small airways,” says Dr Goel. Dr Sumeet Sha, Senior Consultant & Head, Minimal Access & Bariatric Surgery, Max Smart Hospital says that morbid or severe obesity impairs lung function as it acts as a “Restrictive Airway Disease”. “In addition, severe obesity impairs movement of Diaphragm -the curtain of muscles between chest and abdomen, which also plays an active role in breathing. Morbidly obese patients become tired and breathless faster,” he explained. Dr Sha said that morbidly obese patients also have high incidence of “Obstructive Sleep Apnoea” – a condition in which respiration gets impaired in lying down/ sleeping position.
“Bariatric surgery leads to significant weight loss and thus improvement in lung function – helping the patient to breathe better, become less breathless on exertion and remarkably improve their sleep apnea problems,” he added.
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Dr Anil Ballani, consultant physician, Hinduja Hospital, said that obese individuals are more at risk of developing blood clots in the arteries due to their thick legs, less of anti-clotting factors in the blood and higher risk of type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension. “Bariatric surgery helps people to lose considerable amount of weight which in turn normalises blood sugar, cholesterol levels and blood pressure- factors that cut down the risk for blood clot,” according to Dr Bhallani.