Published on November 12, 2023, 12:49 am
Novo Nordisk’s drug, Wegovy, has shown promising results in reducing the risk of serious cardiovascular complications in people with obesity and heart disease. In a recent study, Wegovy was found to have a significant effect on heart attacks, indicating a potential new frontier for treating these conditions.
The Select study, which involved approximately 17,500 participants with obesity and heart disease but without diabetes, administered weekly injections of Wegovy. The trial showed that Wegovy reduced the overall risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from cardiovascular causes by 20%. These findings were presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Dr. Robert Kushner, a professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine who was involved with the study, stated that this is the first time a medication approved for chronic obesity management can be considered life-saving. This could have significant implications for insurance coverage and encourage broader use of the anti-obesity drug.
The data from this study may also give Novo Nordisk an edge over Eli Lilly’s competing weight-loss drug Zepbound, which was recently approved in the United States. While Zepbound has been shown to help people lose more weight, it has not yet demonstrated an effect on cardiovascular outcomes. Dr. Howard Weintraub from NYU Langone Heart believes that insurance companies will be inclined to choose drugs that reduce cardiovascular events.
In addition to reducing the risk of heart attack by 28%, Wegovy also showed a modest 7% reduction in non-fatal strokes during the five-year trial. Interestingly, these cardiovascular benefits were observed even before participants lost significant weight. Dr. Ania Jastreboff from Yale Obesity Research Center suggests that both weight loss and the drug itself may contribute to improved heart health.
Furthermore, Wegovy decreased progression to diabetes by 73% among participants with blood sugar levels in the prediabetes range. This suggests that the drug could be used as an early treatment for diabetes. Novo Nordisk’s other drug, Ozempic, which uses the same active ingredient as Wegovy, is already approved for diabetes treatment.
While there were some side effects reported with Wegovy, including gastrointestinal issues like vomiting and diarrhea, doctors believe that adjusting the dosage or making dietary changes can help manage these effects. It is worth noting that participants in this study experienced less weight loss compared to previous studies examining Wegovy. However, this may be attributed to the different characteristics of the participants and the absence of lifestyle changes in this trial.
Despite some limitations in terms of diversity among participants, doctors anticipate that these positive results will lead to increased usage of Wegovy in clinical practice. The potential for a diabetes drug to have positive cardiovascular and metabolic effects presents a new opportunity for treating obese patients with cardiovascular disease.
Dr. George Dangas from Mount Sinai Hospital sees this as an exciting development but acknowledges that it may take time and effort to incorporate Wegovy into clinical practice. Nevertheless, he believes that having a beneficial treatment option for patients is a step in the right direction.
Overall, the results of this study highlight the potential impact of Wegovy on reducing cardiovascular complications in people with obesity and heart disease. As further research and clinical experience are gained, it is expected that more individuals will benefit from this life-saving medication.