Resolving weight eases heart issues, other health problems

NORTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Obesity isn't just a matter of excess weight, but what that weight does to the body's overall health.

And it takes more than a diet to make a person healthy again.

Doctors at Temple Health say patients need a team focused on that goal.

It's a staggering number - more than two-thirds of adults in Philadelphia are overweight or obese.

And it is driving a host of problems, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

"A lot of their systems are affected, their heart is affected, their lungs are affected, their liver's affected," says Dr. Rohit Soans, medical director of the bariatric surgery surgery program at Temple Health.

There's no one cause to obesity, so there's no single solution.

And many people feel alone in their struggle.

"They're not able to find a physician or group who can actually really help them go through the process," says Dr. Nana Afari, a heart failure specialist at Temple.

Dr. Afari and Dr. Soans say teamwork with other specialists at Temple Health is vital.

"It gives our patients comfort," notes Dr. Afari.

First, they believe in prompt appointments.

"We opened up schedules to get patients in sooner, because again, it builds that trust factor," says Dr. Afari.

And they look at each patient's challenges to achieving better overall health, such as getting nutritious food.

"So if you look down the street, there's more access to fast foods," says Dr. Afari.

Bariatric surgery itself has undergone a revolution.

"Because we do the surgery in such a minimally invasive fashion, people can get back on their feet much quicker," says Dr. Soans.

Dietitians work with patients, finding good food and learning healthier patterns before and after surgery.

Patients see progress - not just on the scales, but in their heart health.

"So their sugars get better, their blood pressure gets better, they're more active," Dr. Afari says.

"We want them to live longer. We want them to have a better quality of life," says Dr. Soans.

Often, people can also come off sleep apnea machines, and reduce their medications after the surgery, for results they probably couldn't achieve on their own.
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