New Study Finds Weight-Loss Drug Wegovy Reduces Risk of Heart Problems

Published on November 14, 2023, 12:42 am

New Study Finds Weight-Loss Drug Wegovy Reduces Risk of Heart Problems

A recent study has found that the weight-loss drug Wegovy can significantly reduce the risk of serious heart problems. The study, which was funded by Novo Nordisk, the drugmaker behind Wegovy, involved over 17,600 participants aged 45 and older who had preexisting heart conditions. These individuals were tracked for an average of three years and were given either Wegovy injections or a placebo in addition to their regular heart medications.

The findings revealed that those who received Wegovy had a 20% lower risk of experiencing a heart attack, stroke, or death from a heart-related cause compared to those who received the placebo. Participants who took Wegovy also experienced weight loss of about 9% and saw improvements in key markers of heart disease such as inflammation, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and waist circumference. In contrast, the placebo group only lost less than 1% of their weight.

Dr. Jon LaPook, CBS News’ chief medical correspondent, discussed the significance of these findings on “CBS Mornings.” He emphasized that this study involving such a large number of participants from different countries provides important evidence about the benefits of Wegovy. He highlighted that almost 70% of the study participants had previously suffered from a heart attack.

While the results are promising, it is worth noting that approximately one-third of all study volunteers reported serious side effects. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other stomach-related issues led some participants to discontinue their involvement in the study. However, medical experts believe that these side effects are manageable compared to the potential benefits to heart health.

The research is groundbreaking as it is the first to demonstrate that an obesity medication like Wegovy can not only aid in weight loss but also safely prevent adverse cardiovascular events in individuals with existing heart disease (excluding those with diabetes). This distinguishes it from another drug produced by Novo Nordisk called Ozempic, which has shown heart health benefits for people with diabetes. The drugmaker has already requested the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to include information about Wegovy’s potential heart benefits on its label, similar to Ozempic.

Nevertheless, it remains unclear whether the observed effects are primarily due to weight loss or the drug itself. An editorial accompanying the study underlined this point, suggesting that further research is needed to fully understand the mechanism behind the reduced risk of heart problems.

One notable critique of the study is its lack of diversity in participant representation. Dr. LaPook pointed out that the majority of participants were white males. This raises concerns about generalizability and the need for future studies to be more inclusive.

Additionally, cost and insurance coverage are aspects that need consideration. Wegovy comes with a monthly price tag of approximately $1,300, which raises questions about affordability for many individuals. Currently, private health insurance often does not cover anti-obesity medications like Wegovy, and there are strict preauthorization requirements in place. While Medicare (the government health plan for older Americans) is prohibited from covering drugs solely for weight loss purposes, there have been efforts by drug manufacturers and obesity treatment advocates to expand coverage through legislation.

Dr. LaPook emphasized that these medications should not be seen as a solution for individuals who only want to shed a few pounds. The long-term effects and potential side effects are still being examined in those contexts. Instead, these drugs could be considered alongside other options for specific patients who meet certain criteria.

In conclusion, this study highlights significant benefits associated with Wegovy as a weight-loss medication in improving heart health outcomes for individuals with existing heart conditions. The findings may lead to changes in medical guidelines and have long-lasting implications within the healthcare community. However, it is crucial to use these medications judiciously while also placing emphasis on diet and exercise as essential tools in managing obesity-related conditions.

Original Source: Watch CBS NewsNovember 13, 2023 / 2:17 PM EST