Published on November 12, 2023, 12:43 am
Novo Nordisk’s weight loss drug, Wegovy, offers heart protective benefits beyond just weight loss, according to new data presented at a medical meeting. The drug has been shown to help patients lose an average of 15% of their weight and also reduces the incidence of heart attack, stroke, or death from heart disease by 20%. These beneficial effects were observed even before significant weight loss occurred.
The study, known as Select trial and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, involved overweight and obese patients with preexisting heart disease but not diabetes. It found that Wegovy reduced the risk of non-fatal heart attack by 28%, non-fatal stroke by 7%, and heart-related death by 15% compared to a placebo.
The cardiovascular benefits of Wegovy are not solely attributed to weight loss. Researchers noted that the medication’s impact on associated risk factors such as inflammation, blood pressure, and blood sugar control contributed to its clinical benefit. The drug’s ability to lower C-reactive proteins (a measure of inflammation) is similar to cholesterol-lowering statins known for their effectiveness in reducing heart risks.
Dr. Chad Weldy, a cardiologist at Stanford University, emphasized that the trial did not investigate how Wegovy prevents heart disease but focused on halting its progression. However, given the trial’s large patient population, he believes doctors should consider prescribing Wegovy to individuals who have had a heart attack or obstructive coronary disease with a body mass index over 27.
During the trial involving over 17,000 patients lasting an average of 33 months, some adverse side effects were reported in the form of gastrointestinal disorders such as nausea and vomiting. Nonetheless, Novo Nordisk stated that Wegovy proved safe and well-tolerated.
Although this trial specifically studied semaglutide (the active ingredient in Wegovy), it remains uncertain whether these results can be generalized to other GLP1-class drugs. Novo Nordisk anticipates updating Wegovy’s label to include its heart benefits, with approval expected in the U.S. and EU next year.
In conclusion, the new data presents compelling evidence that Wegovy offers heart protective benefits beyond weight loss alone. This breakthrough in obesity treatment has the potential to revolutionize how doctors approach patients with preexisting heart disease and weight management.