Do I Have a Comorbid Condition?

Here’s everything you need to know about comorbidity, weight-related health conditions, and how weight loss surgery can help reverse them.

Your body is a complex, interconnected system. When one aspect is thrown out of equilibrium, that change can impact other aspects of your health as well or bring new issues to the surface.

For example, if you’ve struggled with obesity, you might have noticed that bouts of fatigue, joint pain, and shortness of breath seem to grow more frequent with each extra pound. Ask a doctor about this and they might use the term “comorbidity” or “comorbid conditions” — but what exactly does that mean?

What is Comorbidity?

The term “comorbidity” is widely used in medicine, but it’s challenging to zero in on a singular definition. The most commonly accepted definition classifies comorbidity as one or more medical conditions in a single patient that exist simultaneously and are caused by or related to a primary condition.

For example, preeclampsia is a medical condition characterized by high blood pressure and liver or kidney damage, and only women who are at least 20 weeks pregnant and used to have normal blood pressure levels can develop this condition. High blood pressure and liver damage are conditions that are comorbid with preeclampsia because without this primary condition, the woman likely wouldn’t have high blood pressure or liver damage.

Comorbidities are actually quite common and they’re not always cause for alarm. Having a comorbidity simply means you have two medical conditions at the same time, and this is true for many people. However, if you have a serious health condition like obesity, the comorbidities associated with it can be dangerous.

Common Obesity-Related Conditions

Many serious health complications are comorbid with obesity, but these three are some of the most common.

  • Type 2 Diabetes: Diabetes occurs in teenagers and adults who don’t produce enough insulin to regulate glucose levels in their cells. Being overweight puts you at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes, particularly if you carry that excess weight around your stomach.
  • Cardiovascular Disease: Heart disease, the leading cause of death in the world, is comorbid with diabetes and obesity. Obesity increases your bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which increases your risk of heart disease. Also, when you’re obese your blood has to work harder to circulate oxygen and that leads to an increase in blood pressure, one of the most common causes of a heart attack.
  • Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where breathing stops and starts frequently during sleep. It is common in people with BMIs in the overweight or obese categories. Excess fat crowds the airway and the base of the tongue, which collapses the airway and leads to difficulty breathing.

The good news about comorbidities is that if you rectify the primary condition that causes them, it’s highly likely they’ll go away.

How Weight Loss Surgery Can Help

Researchers at the University of Michigan conducted a study to examine the effects of gastric bypass on obese patients who had type 2 diabetes. Gastric bypass patients in the study lost 25 percent of their body weight and dropped their blood sugar levels by 60 mg/dL, which played a key role in managing symptoms and even caused 40 percent of participants to go into partial or full diabetes remission.

Similarly, once you lose a significant amount of your excess weight with the help of bariatric surgery, there’ll be less pressure on your diaphragm and you’ll be able to breathe easier during the night. Weight loss surgery can also resolve heart disease in 56 percent of cases.

For more information about the numerous health benefits of bariatric surgery, schedule an appontment with the bariatric surgery experts at Long Island Laparoscopic Doctors. We can help you get a clearer picture of your health and the potential improvements you can make through weight loss. Contact us today — we’d love to hear from you.