Researchers in the United Kingdom said their findings suggest that obese people at high risk for heart disease should seriously consider undergoing this type of procedure to lose weight.
The researchers also said their study is the first comprehensive review of weight-loss surgery -- known as bariatric surgery -- on heart disease, stroke and death.
"We looked at the outcomes for patients who undergo bariatric surgery, and compared them to figures for obese people who had not received surgery. We saw that surgery was potentially lifesaving and could lower the risk of having a heart attack and stroke by almost 50 percent," study senior author Dr. Yoon Loke, of the University of East Anglia's Norwich Medical School in England, said in a university news release.
The researchers examined 14 previous studies involving more than 29,000 patients who had weight-loss surgery. The mean age of the patients was 48, and 30 percent were men. The participants were followed for a period of two to 14 years.
The study also saw a 40 percent reduction in death rates among patients who had the surgery, compared to those who didn't have the procedure.
"Obesity is a worldwide problem with significant consequences on individuals and society. It is associated with heart disease, type 2 diabetes, many cancers and a shorter life expectancy," Loke said.
The study authors added that a large, high-quality study on the benefits of weight-loss surgery is needed.
The study was published March 28 in the International Journal of Cardiology.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health provides more information on weight-loss surgery.