We are all aware of the many roles that Vitamin D plays in our bodies. This includes immune function in addition to all the regulatory roles that Vitamin D plays in several physiologic reactions. There may be a correlation of low Vitamin D and COVID-19 infection increasing death risk as looked at in research articles.
Covid -19 in a subset of patience causes significant lung injury. These patients require mechanical ventilation.
Previously reported publications have suggested a possible correlation between ace inhibitors and increased risk of pulmonary complications of Covid -19. Some researchers suspect that the Covid-19 may be able to enter lung cells by the ACE receptors.
Vitamin D may positively implact the receptor ACE2. This study, report clear correlation between the high death rate with low vitamin D levels in Covid infected patients. There are limitation to this study that the attached abstract outlines.
Our take home message would be to please make sure you have updated labs and that you are all taking the recommended Vitamin D based on your surgical anatomy and laboratory values, not just an average non-bariatric person recommended dose.
Protein intake requirements change over time following weight loss surgery. This is based on the requirements imposed on our body by a number of variables. These include, activity level, muscle mass, over all health condition to name a few.
A very young muscular athletic male with a BMI or 30 will require much higher protein intake (and absorption) that an inactive older Female with the same BMI. The same young athletic male will require much higher protein intake is he is recovering from a surgery than his baseline.
As we have stated in the past, the protein intake, should be adequate and not excessive. High level of protein intake that are not accounted for based on muscle mass and activity level, will eventually result in weight gain. The best measure of protein intake in a stable weight patient over 3-4 years post op is their albumin and protein level. Following your yearly laboratory values at a minimum is an important part of weight loss surgery follow up care.
You also need to adjust protein intake when necessary. Protein needs increase depending on physical needs, infection, healing, pregnancy, surgery, age, injury, etc. Plastic surgery requires higher protein needs for appropriate healing.
Information on protein sources and quality here.
The basic formula for protein intake is 1gm/kg of ideal body weight. The calculator below will provide a guide for the protein into based on your stable weight in lbs.
Recently there has been some research and concern regarding sunscreen and the chemicals within them. This has led to findings that can be concerning but that need further research.
Post weight loss surgical patients, and in general patients who suffer with obesity, before or after weight loss surgery, have low vitamin D level. This may be caused by a number of factors. One such factor may be the reluctance to get skin exposed to sunlight in order for the bodies natural Vitamin D pathways functioning.
The recommendations are for daily exposure to sun. This not only is critical to the vitamin D metabolic pathways, but also help with bone health, immune function, mood, counteracting depression.
In a recently published online article, concerns were raised that some of the ingredients of some of few sunscreens are absorbed in the blood stream. This is a small study, and as the results indicates, it is not recommending to stop using the sun screens. Be aware of your sun exposure, timing exposure, and the ingredients in your sunscreen.
You can find past blog posts on Vitamin D, Bone health, etc here
Question : “Do I have to take higher dose of thyroid medication after the duodenal switch? ”
Answer : “Maybe”
With all weight loss surgical procedures, there may be changes to absorption of medications. It is easily understood why duodenal switch may results in decreased absorption of fat-soluble medication. What is not as clear is the reduction in absorption of other medication with procedures that do not explicitly change the absorption at the level of the small bowel directly.
The research data is all over on this topic. There is published literature that shows improvement in the thyroid function after gastric bypass and the sleeve gastrectomy. However, the exact mechanism is not completely understood.
There is research that reports “…decreased postoperative levothyroxine requirements.” Other have shows no correlation between the length of the bowel distal to duodenum to absorption of thyroid medication.
With all this confusing data, the best course would be to always “treat the patient and not the lab results.”
If a patients who has been on medications with stable number and symptoms, suddenly presents with complaints of hypothyroidism after weight loss surgery, it’s possible the medications should be up adjusted even if the thyroid lab values may not be as defining.
Treatment options should be approached is a global and systemic fashion. It is critical that the nutritional status is at its best possible and optimized for important healthy bone vitamins and minerals. Low protein needs to be corrected. Special attention should be given to nutrients, minerals and vitamins. These include Protein, Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K1/K2to name a few.
Healthy bones require ongoing and routine force in the form of exercise to remain health. Just as exercise improves muscle strength, it also improves bone health. Exercise is also critical in improving bone structure and density. Ideally, exercise should be weight bearing and resistance. Examples include: hiking, walking, jogging, climbing stairs, playing tennis, and dancing. Resistance type exercise is weight lifting and resistance bands. These exercise work by creating a pull or force on the bone either by gravity, movement or weight. Always check with your physician before beginning an exercise routine, start slowly and building up to longer periods of time. The ideal goal would be at least 30 minutes a day, every day, if you are able.
We frequently see patients immediately started on osteoporosis medications without checking or improving some of the nutritional markers noted above or without looking at exercise history. In some case, the medication recommended are contraindicated due to nutritional status.
The medications can be grouped in to those that help with new bone formation (Anabolic agents) or those that help by suppressing the bone breakdown phase (Antiresorptive agents).
National Osteoporosis Foundation has an exhaustive list (below) of medications for treatment of Osteoporosis.
The table below outlines the side effects and mechanism of the actions of the common medications used for treatment of osteoporosis which was published by the University Health News Publication on August of 2014.
With all this information, the few points to remember is that the most important factors in healthy bone structure are the nutritional status Protein, Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K1 levels.
This is an animation of normal bone Metabolism. It shows how bone structures is taken down and rebuilt continuously. This allows for a healthy bone maintainence as we age. The key is the balance of breakdown (osteoclast) and the build up (osteoblast) activity is regulated. Osteoporosis develops when there is more breakdown that build up.
With permission of Dr. Susan Ott of University of Washington.
Additional information available on her site.
Past blogs on Bone Health.
Gastroesophageal (GE) reflux is the condition when the stomach content are able to “reflux” back thru an incompetent lower esophageal sphincter (LES) into the esophagus.
Gastroesophageal reflux Disease (GERD) is the clinical condition which is the result of long standing reflux and results in microscopic and visible changes to the inner lining of the esophagus, esophageal mucosa.
GERD is a non descriptive as to the cause of the condition. It only states that the content of the stomach have been irritating the lining of the esophagus on chronic bases. This can be caused by an anatomical abnormality fo the GE junction (Hiatal Hernia), or may be related to disfunction the LES. Other possible causes of the GERD may be infection (H.Pylori) environmental (stress) and dietary (nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, spicy food) in origin.
So far we have not clarified the chemical nature of the the refluxed content.
In Acid Reflux, the relative acid overproduction of acidic secretion and the exposure of the esophageal mucosa is what needs to be addressed. This is accomplished by acid suppression medications, Anti Histamine (H2 blockers) Proton pump inhibitors (PPI) for example. The physiology, and the mechanism involving this condition is well understood. As a surgeon, we do however see patients who should have had surgical intervention. The initial mode of therapy for a patient with documented acid reflux, and or symptomatic hiatal hernia is placing them on medication. These patients are then recommended to have related upper endoscopy. Patients who do not improve or where deterioration of the esophageal mucosa, presence of precancerous cells, then the patients are referred for surgical intervention.
Bile Reflux, contrary to acid reflux may have very little if anything with the LES. The symptoms experienced by the patient may be as ofter related to the excessive bile in the stomach seen frequently
after cholecystectomy, or in those patients with dysfunctional gallbladder (low EF on HIDA scan).
PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome PCOS is a complex condition. The exact cause of PCOS is unknown however, it involves hormones imbalance and multiple ovarian cysts, irregular menses, and infertility. In some cases, PCOS can be compounded by diabetes, hypertension and other metabolic conditions. PCOS has been shown to effect approximately 10% of women of childbearing age with symptoms of menstrual abnormalities, poly cystic ovaries, and excess androgen (male sex hormone). PCOS should be diagnosed by ensuring there are no other underlying endocrine issues. There are several associated disease processes that seem to be related to PCOS. These related disease processes are Type 2 Diabetes, higher depression and anxiety, increased cardiovascular risks, stroke, hyperlipidemia, sleep apnea, overall inflammation, and endometrial cancer.
Anatomically, numerous cysts are found on the ovaries. These are usually diagnosed by ultrasound, blood levels of hormones, and symptoms described above.
Bariatric Surgery and PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome PCOS
Bariatric Surgery can improve PCOS in those individuals with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Further information on weight loss surgery and its effect on PCOS here.
A Parathyroid scan or Sestamibi scan may be needed if the typical weight loss surgical reasons for elevated PTH levels have been addressed. Sestamibi is a small protein which is labeled with the radio-pharmaceutical technetium-99. This very mild and safe radioactive agent is injected into the veins of a patient with overactive parathyroid and is absorbed by the overactive parathyroid gland. If the parathyroid is normal it will not absorb the agent. The scan below shows the uptake of the agent.
Calcium, Vitamin D and Parathyroid hormone are routinely measured on yearly follow up for most post weight loss surgical (WLS) patients. Elevated parathyroid hormone (PTH) may be caused by Vitamin D deficiency or calcium deficiency (most common in post WLS) or by over active parathyroid gland(s). In the latter case, if one of the four glands is overactive then this is knows as a parathyroid Adenoma. If all 4 are over active and are secreting too much PTH, this is known as hyperplasia. Ultrasound of the neck, may identify an enraged parathyroid gland (adenoma) which is located behind the thyroid gland. Given the large area where the parathyroid gland may be located, additional tests are needed to not only identify the location of the gland(s) but also to distinguish between single gland (adenoma) or multiple glands (hyperplasia) cause for the elevated PTH. It is important to investigate all avenues and testing in parathyroid hormone elevation and in some cases, not to rely on one test for your diagnosis. It is also imperative that weight loss surgical patients take their supplements routinely and consistently and have their laboratory studies followed at least yearly.
Calcium is measured to evaluate function and adequacy of a physiologic processes. Calcium plays a critical role in several body functions such as, coagulation pathways, bone health, nerve conduction, and other functions. It is important whenever you are evaluating laboratory results that you look at the whole picture of the person, including medications, other laboratory studies and health history. One value is not a stand alone result. There are many factors that effect calcium results.
Factors that effect calcium results: (not an all inclusive list)
The two most common issues following Weight loss Surgery or Duodenal Switch may be albumin level and Vitamin D level. Please see past blogs on Vitamin D. Magnesium may also play a role in a Duodenal Switch patient.
The most common calcium result drawn is the total calcium level. Laboratory results may not explicitly label it as such, however, it measures the calcium that is bound to protein. Ionized calcium is the free calcium that is representative of the true total calcium. Ionized Calcium can be measured by ordering specific lab. Alternatively, the Ionized calcium can be calculated by the following formula: Corrected calcium mg/dL = (0.8 * (Normal Albumin – Pt’s Albumin)) + Serum Ca ) or use the calculator at the bottom of this post.
The low Albumin level accounts for the low calcium level. This may be the reason for a patient with a low albumin/protein level, also having their calcium level reported as low. However, when adjusted for the protein deficiency the corrected calcium comes into normal range. Video of Trouseau’s sign of a patient with calcium deficiency.
The first step in a patient who has low calcium reported, is to make sure their protein and albumin levels are normal, along with Vitamin D.
Calcium levels are managed by two processes major regularly hormones and influencing hormones. Controlling or major regulatory hormones include PTH, calcitonin, and vitamin D. In the kidney, vitamin D and PTH stimulate the activity of the epithelial calcium channel and the calcium-binding protein (ie, calbindin) to increase calcium absorption. Influencing hormones include thyroid hormones, growth hormone, and adrenal and gonadal steroids.
Corrected calcium = 0.8 * (4.0 – serum albumin) + serum calcium