What are Co-morbidities?
When other diseases occur due to a primary disease (in this case obesity), the secondary diseases are considered to be co-morbid, and doctors refer to these conditions as co-morbidities. These are medical conditions, the most common co-morbidities are:
- Type 2 Diabetes – when the body can’t make or use insulin correctly
- Sleep apnea – the interruption of breathing during sleep
- Hypertension – high blood pressure
- Weight-related arthritis – joint pain and stiffness
- GERD – when stomach acid backs up into your esophagus and burns it
The severity of obesity is determined based on a person’s Body Mass Index (BMI) and can range from obese to severely obese, morbidly obese, and super-obese. Many times the presence of co-morbid diseases is used to diagnose morbid obesity in patients. The co-morbid diseases caused by obesity affect several systems within the body. Heart disease and high blood pressure are both common co-morbidities of obesity, and both affect the cardiovascular system. Other co-morbidities that affect the cardiovascular system include high cholesterol and pulmonary embolism. These conditions can lead to heart attack, congestive heart failure and stroke.
People suffering from morbid obesity are also at risk for muscular and skeletal conditions, such as osteoarthritis and low back pain, and often require joint replacement surgery for their knees and hips. Similarly, obesity commonly affects the gastrointestinal system, causing conditions like fatty liver disease, gallstones, hernias and acid reflux disease. Respiratory complications include sleep apnea, obesity hypoventilation syndrome, and asthma.
Recently, excess weight has also been linked to conditions such as erectile dysfunction in men, and incontinence in menopausal women. Younger women who are significantly overweight also may have infrequent menstrual cycles, and children born to obese mothers are at risk for birth defects.
Studies have shown that weight loss surgery is an effective treatment for co-morbidities associated with obesity. In fact, weight loss surgery has been proven to reduce or resolve Type 2 Diabetes in the vast majority of obese patients. Other conditions, such as hypertension, GERD, migraines and sleep apnea, are also generally resolved after bariatric surgery once patients are no longer clinically obese.
Severe and morbid obesity can trigger and aggravate numerous health conditions that not only cause emotional and psychological harm and ruin a person’s quality of life, but also pose serious risks to their health. When diets and exercise have failed, weight loss surgery may be the best treatment option. Many insurance carriers require that a weight loss surgery candidate have at least two co-morbid diseases in order to qualify for insurance coverage.
If you suffer from health conditions associated with your weight, contact our office to find out whether weight loss surgery may be an option to help you begin to lead a healthier and longer life.