- Researchers report that overweight or obese people reduced their cardiovascular risk after taking the weight-loss drug Wegovy for a year.
- Experts say they hope these findings will encourage more medical professionals to prescribe the drug to their patients.
- They also point out that the key to improved heart health was not the drug itself, but rather weight loss in study participants.
According to researchers, a weight-loss drug can help prevent heart attacks, strokes and other forms of cardiovascular disease.
In a new study, researchers reported that people treated with the obesity drug semaglutide experienced a drop in their cardiovascular risk after using the drug for a year.
People who took semaglutide experienced a drop in their 10-year risk of developing atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease from 7.6% to 6.3% between the start of the study and the first year, according to the study presented at European Congress on Obesity in Dublin, Ireland.
Semaglutide users experienced lower blood pressure, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar levels.
People using the weight-loss drug also lost an average of almost 11% of their body weight after one year, the researchers reported.
Their findings have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Semaglutide is sold under the brand names Ozempic, Wegovy and Rybelsus.
It was originally approved to treat type 2 diabetes in 2017. A high-dose injectable version (Wegovy) has been
Researchers led by Dr. Andres Acosta and Dr. Wissam Ghusn of the Precision Medicine for Obesity Program at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota based their findings on a study of 93 overweight or obese people with a body mass index ( BMI ) of 27 years or more and no history of cardiovascular disease.
The average age of both male and female participants in the study was 55 years old. Most of the participants were Caucasian.
Study subjects were scored using the 10-year ASCVD risk estimator created by the American College of Cardiology.
“Use of semaglutide in overweight or obese patients is associated with a decreased risk of ASCVD at 10 years,” the researchers concluded. “Although modest after only one year of use, this decrease may translate into a reduced risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality over time with continued weight loss. Other studies, with larger samples and longer follow-up periods are needed to assess the cardiovascular outcomes of semaglutide.
Obesity is a major risk factor for the development of abnormal blood fat levels, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnea.
All of these conditions are comorbidities that increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, and atherosclerosis.
“The main takeaway is that weight loss using semaglutide may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. These results may allow access to these drugs for patients who would not otherwise be eligible,” said the Dr. Mir Ali, bariatric surgeon and medical director of MemorialCare Surgical Weight Loss Center. at Orange Coast Medical Center in California, said Medical News Today.
Ali added that it is the weight reduction that is important here.
“In my opinion, it is not the drug itself that reduces the risk of heart disease, but the weight loss resulting from taking it,” he said. “A study comparing individuals who have similar weight loss with and without the drug may elucidate whether the risk reduction is from the weight loss or from the drug.”
Semaglutide is in a class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) agonists, which help control glucose levels by increasing the release of insulin into the bloodstream.
“This new research provides physicians who had doubts about the health implications of GLP-1 beyond weight loss with more evidence of their health benefits,” said Dr. Rekha Kumar, physician- head of the medical weight management program. as a former medical director for the American Board of Obesity Medicine who was not involved in the study.
“Cardiovascular outcome studies may play a role in understanding the long-term impacts on comorbidities when weight is lost with the use of medications,” Kumar said. Medical News Today. “The goal of using these drugs to facilitate body weight loss is to reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality directly and indirectly by preventing or treating diabetes.”
Dr. John Higgins, professor of cardiovascular medicine at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, said similar results could likely be expected in people who have used other weight-loss drugs or who have lost weight through diets. changes in diet and exercise.
He noted, however, that “non-pharmacological methods like diet and exercise have the advantage of fewer side effects than medication.”
“What we don’t know and what isn’t measured by the [ASCVD] The risk calculator is what happens to other important risk factors, for example, the level of inflammation in the body drops (reduces risk) or rises (increases cardiovascular risk),” Higgins said. Medical News Today.
“What about other effects of the drug that could potentially counteract the positive effects somewhat? This is why a prospective study measuring in more detail [lab and imaging data] and following patients over a longer period of time and tracking their cardiovascular events is needed to see what the full effect of the drug is,” he added.