WASHINGTON, March 31 (Reuters) - Bariatric weight loss surgery on obese patients with type 2 diabetes helped many to get their blood sugar to healthy levels and to no longer require any diabetes medicines, including insulin, three years after the procedure, according to data presented at a major medical meeting on Monday.
The surgery also helped patients reduce the need for high blood pressure and cholesterol medicines and led to quality of life improvements compared with those who received medical weight-loss therapy, researchers found.
The study called Stampede, which involved 150 obese patients who had poorly controlled type 2 diabetes for at least eight years, was conducted by Cleveland Clinic researchers.
It compared two types of weight loss surgery against weight loss attained by diet and exercise along with nutrition counseling and, for some, additional diabetes medicines that can help promote weight loss, such as Victoza from Novo Nordisk . All patients were already taking at least three diabetes drugs and at least three heart medicines.
More than a third - 37.5 percent - of patients who underwent gastric bypass surgery and a quarter of those who had a sleeve gastrectomy procedure achieved blood sugar levels below the American Diabetes Association target and no longer needed diabetes medicines, researchers said. That compared with just 5 percent of patients in the medical therapy group who got their A1c blood sugar levels down to 6 percent or less. ADA recommendations call for A1c levels of 7 or less.
"Initially we thought diabetes was a disease you could not reverse or end. We do realize now that there may be a treatment that could end diabetes for some people and that's exciting," said Dr. Sangeeta Kashyap, one of the study's lead investigators.
Results of the study were presented at the American College of Cardiology scientific meeting in Washington and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
(Reporting by Bill Berkrot and Ransdell Pierson; Editing by James Dalgleish)