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Study reveals long-term benefits of surgery in fighting diabetes

Diabetes is one of those conditions that challenges the medical profession. The dangers of the condition are well known and can be so detrimental that in the most severe cases it can leave a person disabled and possibly eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits.

In an ideal world, diabetes would be curable. Unfortunately, we don't live in such a world. As a result, diabetes-related complications are all too common. They can include a higher-than-normal risk of heart disease, kidney disease and more.

According to the National Diabetes Education Program, an estimated 26 million people in the U.S. have diabetes. As such, they tend to run higher-than-normal risks for heart disease, kidney failure, strokes and more. Of additional concern is that of those with the condition, more than 65 percent are considered to be obese.

Treatment of diabetes is varied. Some patients require drugs and insulin. Weight loss is commonly recommended, but may be hard to achieve. Some obese patients have turned to bariatric surgery to try to lose weight as a last resort.

Doctors have known for a while that stomach-reducing operations can help counter Type 2 diabetes in obese patients, but the thought was that the benefit was short-lived. But now there is long-term research that shows the surgeries may be better than medications for some patients.

Scientists looked at data for two groups of patients over a three year period. One group had had surgery. The other had been treated with medications. At the three-year mark, doctors found that most of the surgical patients, more than 90 percent, no longer needed to take insulin. Nearly half of them had needed it at the start of the research. The rate of insulin use in the medicated patients went from 52 percent to 55 percent.

Doctors are not declaring surgery a cure. They do note, though, that some patients have gone more than five years without having to take medications. That's prompting some optimism.  

Laying out the case for such a claim can be complicated and daunting for someone unfamiliar with the Social Security Administration's application process. An experienced attorney's assistance can help ensure that a claim is properly submitted and perhaps reduce the chance of a denial or need of appeal.

Source: The Big Story, "Surgery gives long-term help for obese diabetics," Marilynn Marchione, March 31, 2014

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