Changing unhealthy habits: spotlight on sleep, surgery

CHECK: Chris West no longer has high blood pressure, or other obesity risks, after opting for a holistic approach to surgery with Douraid Abbas. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric
CHECK: Chris West no longer has high blood pressure, or other obesity risks, after opting for a holistic approach to surgery with Douraid Abbas. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

Chris gets her life back in big surgical decision

ONE year on from bariatric surgery, Beaufort’s Chris West feels like jumping on a couch like Tom Cruise in his iconic Oprah moment.

Ms West said the decision to have surgery was not made lightly, but one that has given her a life back.

Before surgery, Ms West struggled with diabetes, high blood pressure, joint pain and reflux that led to oesophageal erosion. She was also constantly fatigued from her weight.

These health concerns have diminished and the only joint pain she has now is from arthritis, having lost more than 35 kilograms after a sleeve gastrectomy in which part of her stomach was removed.

Ms West has really had to look at lifestyle changes to go with her surgery. She said her struggles with weight seemed to start with over-eating, particularly late at night, and this evolved into a complex health issue.

“I want people to know surgery is an option,” Ms West said. “I struggled with my weight for years. I thought about asking for surgery but only a failure would do that. In the end, I had to do something. I had to overcome those inner demons first.”

Ms West’s general practitioner had initially told her she was too old for surgery. She met with Ballarat bariatric surgeon Douraid Abbas who deemed Ms West, then aged 69, near the limit but still an appropriate candidate for the procedure.

Mr Abbas said a greater multi-disciplined approach and understanding was needed to tackle the nation’s obesity crisis on a community level. He said the cost saving on the health system with patients like Ms West, no longer with ongoing health issues like diabetes, was immense.

But addressing the issue was about more than surgery.

Mr Abbas launched an obesity management education group for allied health practitioners across the region this year to share knowledge. This month’s session will focus on high blood pressure, as part of Hypertension Awareness Month. 

“If we, as health industry professionals, can provide our patients with the latest in treatment, technology and care, then we can prevent these conditions from occurring,” Mr Abbas said.

Obesity Management Interest Group is open to all allied health professionals. The group meets every three months, the next meeting is on Tuesday.

For those who wish to join, email Dr Abbas: office@chsurgeons.com.au.

AT A GLANCE (source: Central Highlands Surgeons)

  • Australians living in regional areas are more likely to have high blood pressure than metropolitan counterparts
  • Hypertensive disease (high blood pressure) accounted for 1.3 per cent of deaths in western Victoria between 2009-13.
  • In 2012, 26.6 per cent of Ballarat residents reported having high blood pressure, compared to the state average of 24.5 per cent.
CHECK: Chris West no longer has high blood pressure, or other obesity risks, after opting for a holistic approach to surgery with Douraid Abbas. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

CHECK: Chris West no longer has high blood pressure, or other obesity risks, after opting for a holistic approach to surgery with Douraid Abbas. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

Researchers look at how sleep quality links to heart, weight

HEALTH researcher Stephanie Yiallourou says we need to take greater consideration of quality sleep for heart and obesity issues in regional Victoria.

Dr Yiallourou is taking a closer look at the sleep patters of people at risk of cardiovascular disease in the country as part of the wider complex health puzzle.

While it has been proven sleep and increased cardiovascular disease risks are linked, Dr Yiallourou is part of a Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute team looking for the how and why to help determine ways we can change this.

“Poor sleep quality at night is associated with higher [body mass index] and lower levels of physical activity but we don’t know if this is a causal relationship...Studies have also shown more exercise during the day can improve sleep at night,” Dr Yiallourou told The Courier.

“Cardiovascular disease tends to be higher in regional areas due to factors like socio-economic disadvantage. The other major issue tends to be access to specialist healthcare, which tends to be quite sparse compared to the city.”

Dr Yiallourou said tackling issues of obesity and cardiovascular disease had to look more at behaviours through the full, 24-hour cycle.

The study is in its preliminary stages in Shepparton and Colac, which were identified with particularly high cardiovascular disease rates. Researchers are looking at what happens to the heart with not enough sleep, too much sleep and interrupted sleep.

Ditchy's view

Ditchy's view

Dr Yiallourou will present in a free Baker Institute forum later this month on unlocking the keys to a healthier heart. The event will also feature experts speaking on current projects on the role of the brain in heart disease, how the body deals with stress, and importance of exercise.

  • To register, or for more details to the event on May 29, click here.

This comes as the Royal Australasian College of Physicians has made a united call this week on the federal government to make obesity prevention and treatment an urgent priority.

Doctors warn the obesity health crisis is increasing chronic diseases like diabetes and stronger preventative action is needed especially with children and young people. They say obesity rates among adults and children have effectively doubled in the past 30 years.

Western Victoria and Ballarat has long been deemed a heart hot-spot and weighing in as one of the heaviest regions in the nation.

Central Highlands Regional Partnership last week launched a Prevention Lab, calling on leaders across communities to step up and spark grassroots change.