Background: Although gastric bypass surgery accounts for 80% of bariatric surgery in the United States, only limited long-term data are available on mortality among patients who have undergone this procedure as compared with severely obese persons from a general population. Methods: In this retrospective cohort study, we determined the long-term mortality (from 1984 to 2002) among 9949 patients who had undergone gastric bypass surgery and 9628 severely obese persons who applied for driver's licenses. From these subjects, 7925 surgical patients and 7925 severely obese control subjects were matched for age, sex, and body-mass index. We determined the rates of death from any cause and from specific causes with the use of the National Death Index. Results: During a mean follow-up of 7.1 years, adjusted long-term mortality from any cause in the surgery group decreased by 40%, as compared with that in the control group (37.6 vs. 57.1 deaths per 10,000 person-years, P<0.001); cause-specific mortality in the surgery group decreased by 56% for coronary artery disease (2.6 vs. 5.9 per 10,000 person-years, P = 0.006), by 92% for diabetes (0.4 vs. 3.4 per 10,000 person-years, P = 0.005), and by 60% for cancer (5.5 vs. 13.3 per 10,000 person-years, P<0.001). However, rates of death not caused by disease, such as accidents and suicide, were 58% higher in the surgery group than in the control group (11.1 vs. 6.4 per 10,000 person-years, P = 0.04). Conclusions: Long-term total mortality after gastric bypass surgery was significantly reduced, particularly deaths from diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. However, the rate of death from causes other than disease was higher in the surgery group than in the control group.
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