Relating Health and Weight

While he is grateful for specialized care for his patients when needed, Dr. Afaquue Akhtar, of Premier Health Center in Fuquay Varina, specifically chose the field of internal medicine “because it often addresses the medical problems of my patients in virtually every aspect of their lives.
“Whatever the patient may be suffering with, from physical issues to mental health, we can address and offer helpful treatment and guidance for every single health problem a patient is facing. That is why internal medicine truly is a holistic approach to health and healing in the best sense. I find this approach to health care to be both interesting and challenging.”

Bariatric Surgery

“Patients come to us dealing with a variety of medical issues—and at times that includes surgical issues,” Dr. Akhtar notes. “A patient may have gall bladder or appendix or hernia problems and at the same time be significantly overweight. Perhaps they are a candidate for bariatric surgery.
“While we of course are not engaged in doing surgery, we can address a range of related issues. I am often very involved with pre-operative and post-operative care—and bariatric surgery is becoming the best option for many patients who have excessive weight to shed—with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more, with co-morbid conditions. The great majority of my patients who need bariatric surgery have excellent outcomes.”
Dr. Akhtar notes that, typically, “post-operatively, these patients simply feel much better. Their medical problems, including diabetes and high blood pressure, sometimes subside completely. And of course, we have to continue medical care after surgery, as, over time, we guide the patient back to a more normal way of living—without hundreds of pounds of excess weight.
“I’m reminded of our experience with a 41-year-old African-American woman who was seriously overweight. She tried her best, over months, to curb her appetite and exercise to lose weight, with limited success. We were dealing with high, uncontrolled blood pressure. Different medications had been tried, with limited success, and because her BMI—her body mass index—was more than 45, I encouraged her to consider bariatric surgery. She thought about that option for a long time, and finally decided to go that route.
“Post-surgery, the results were excellent. Steadily, her blood pressure moved into the normal range. In this process, she lost about thirty percent of her overall weight. At this stage in her life, she feels transformed into a different person. Her labs are normal, her cholesterol is normal, her blood pressure is normal. She is faithfully exercising, and is enjoying all aspect of her new life.

A National Issue

Dr. Akhtar notes that, “in this country, 35 to 40 percent of the population is now either obese or significantly overweight, and—not surprisingly—they are experiencing many co-morbid conditions. In our office, we see these weight-burdened patients every day—in every age group and gender.
“The principal issues, I believe, are sedentary lifestyle and poor diet, and too many are on a path that leads to diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, joint problems, and sleep apnea, among many other problems.”
To address these issues, Dr. Akhtar explains, “our initial goal is to talk to the patient, and work with them to develop a plan that will help to change the whole dynamics, first in their home life. Without commitment to such a plan, quite possibly the entire household may be on the path to serious health issues.
“We help people develop a diet plan and an exercise plan, and monitor all aspects of their life. With commitment and perseverance, great changes can be made in the health, present and future, for all members of the household. We want to help them accomplish that.”
“35 to 40 percent of the population is now either obese or significantly overweight, and . . . experiencing many co-morbid conditions.”