Pickwickian Syndrome And Bariatric Surgery

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By Dr. Jeremy Korman

bellyObesity is in the news, on people’s minds, and on the agendas of the nation’s public health agencies. Rightfully so; 35% of U.S. adults are considered obese while 68% are overweight. Obesity is considered one of the leading causes of death in America and can contribute to a variety of health issues. The most often cited are type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and metabolic syndrome. However, obesity is a major risk factor for a condition you may never have heard of, .

What is the Pickwickian Syndrome?

Pickwickian Syndrome, also known as Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome or OHS was first diagnosed in 1950. In this condition, the brain’s inability to adequately control breathing combined with the excessive weight pressing against the chest makes it difficult for a person to take a deep breath. This results in low blood oxygen levels and high levels of carbon dioxide. People affected by the condition often stop breathing completely for short periods of time, especially during sleep, resulting in several awakening during a night, similar to sleep apnea.

The main symptoms of the condition include:

• Daytime sleepiness
• Shortness of breath
• Filing tired after very little effort
• Hypertension
• Headaches
• Depression
• Drowsiness
• Leg swelling

Besides these symptoms, the condition also puts pressure on the heart, which may cause heart failure. There are various treatment methods available for the condition, including noninvasive mechanical ventilation. The most efficient treatment, however, is weight loss.

Bariatric surgery for Pickwickian syndrome

For obese patients suffering from Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome, weight loss is often the only long-term solution. Patients should attempt traditional weight loss methods, such as diet and exercise. saladplateIf those methods fail to produce the expected results, however, bariatric surgery may be a viable option. In cases of extreme obesity, weight loss surgery could be the fastest solution to counter the worsening effects and complications of OHS. A study published in the 2009, Volume 44 of the Journal of Pediatric Surgery shows that weight loss achieved through bariatric surgery significantly improved the patient’s quality of life suffering from Picwickian Syndrome.

How does bariatric surgery work

Though many weight loss procedures exist, they all work through the same mechanisms: either food intake is limited or calorie absorption is reduced (or both). Whichever procedure is recommended, patients should also make serious life style changes, to ensure results.

Pickwickian Syndrome is not a commonly diagnosed disease. Nor is it as common as other obesity-related diseases. However, for those who suffer from this condition, weight loss can improve symptoms. If you are considering bariatric surgery, talk to your primary care physician and an experienced bariatric surgeon to see if you qualify.

– Dr. Jeremy Korman is a board certified bariatric surgeon, Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, medical director and practicing surgeon at Marina Del Rey Hospital’s L.A. Bariatrics weight loss program, helping overweight patients struggling with obesity associated comorbidities to lose weight by offering gastric bypass, LAP Band, gastric sleeve and gastric plication procedures since 2006. More information about Dr. Korman and L.A. Bariatrics is available at: www.marinaweightloss.com

1 Comment

  1. Dear friend. I have just been under tests in my local hospital and diagnosed with Pickwickian syndrom. After i came home from hospital i looked at the cause and what symptoms it had. Yes i have them all. What i would like to know is should i ever work again. Pleas reply with what you know and help.   Thanks.                        Arfon

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