• Saturday, June 22, 2024

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Obesity drug could reduce heart attack risk, study finds

The trial, involving 17,604 patients, evaluated Wegovy not for weight loss but for its heart-protective benefits in overweight and obese individuals.

Boxes of Wegovy are seen at a pharmacy in London. (Photo: Reuters)

By: Vivek Mishra

An obesity drug has been found to decrease the risk of heart attacks, strokes, or heart failure in obese individuals regardless of the amount of weight they lose while on the medication, according to researchers.

The study of the drug, Wegovy, revealed that participants maintained significant weight loss over four years, with fewer serious adverse events compared to those given placebo treatment, reported Sky News.

These findings may prompt UK health authorities, which currently limit treatment to two years, to reconsider their policies.

The Danish drugmaker presented the new long-term data on Tuesday at the European Congress on Obesity in Venice, Italy, in a new analysis from a large study for which substantial results had been published last year, reported Reuters.

On average, participants lost 10.2 per cent of their body weight and 7.7 cm from their waist size after four years.

Even individuals with mild obesity or modest weight loss experienced cardiovascular benefits, suggesting potential broader effects of the treatment beyond fat reduction.

The study, led by Professor John Deanfield of University College London (UCL), utilised data from the Select trial conducted by Wegovy manufacturer Novo Nordisk.

Semaglutide, the active ingredient in Wegovy, belongs to a class of GLP-1 drugs that suppress appetite, aiding in calorie reduction.

The trial, involving 17,604 patients, evaluated Wegovy not for weight loss but for its heart-protective benefits in overweight and obese individuals with preexisting heart disease but without diabetes. Participants were not required to monitor diet and exercise as it was not focused on obesity, Reuters reported.

Around 17 per cent of trial participants discontinued Wegovy use due to side effects, primarily nausea, according to Novo’s analysis.

Patients in the Select trial lost an average of nearly 10 per cent of their total body weight after 65 weeks on Wegovy. This weight loss was maintained year on year, reaching 10.2 per cent after approximately four years, as reported by the company.

Another analysis by Novo, also released on Tuesday, demonstrated that Wegovy’s heart-protective benefits were consistent regardless of patients’ initial weight or the amount of weight they lost on the drug.

“We now also understand that while we know that body weight loss is important, it’s not the only thing driving the cardiovascular benefit of semaglutide treatment,” Lange told Reuters in an interview.

The Select study revealed that Wegovy reduced the risk of major cardiovascular events such as strokes by 20 per cent in overweight or obese individuals with a history of heart disease. This news led to a 13 per cent surge in Novo shares to record highs upon its release in August.

Novo continues to investigate the mechanisms behind semaglutide’s cardiovascular protection.

Wegovy and Zepbound are undergoing testing to evaluate their benefits in various medical conditions such as reducing heart attack risk, treating sleep apnea, and managing kidney disease.

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