NOV 29, 2023 9:00 AM PST

Semaglutide Cuts Cardiovascular Risk in Overweight Adults

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

A new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine has shown that use of semaglutide, a drug used for the treatment of diabetes and weight management, reduced cardiovascular events by 20% in adults with cardiovascular disease and overweight or obesity who did not have diabetes.

The study included over 17,600 patients who had cardiovascular disease and a body mass index greater than or equal to 27 but who had no history of diabetes.  Half of the participants received a once-weekly dose of semaglutide while the other half received placebo. Participants received semaglutide or placebo for an average of 34 months, with an average follow-up time of almost 40 months. During that time, participants were monitored for cardiovascular events including death due to cardiovascular causes, non-fatal heart attacks, and non-fatal strokes.

The results showed that cardiovascular events occurred in 6.5% of the patients taking semaglutide and in 8.0% of the patients taking placebo. This significant difference represented a 20% decrease in relative risk of cardiovascular events for those taking semaglutide. In addition to this reduction in risk, patients in the semaglutide group lost an average of 9.4% of their body weight and showed improvements in common risk factors for heart disease.

An author of the study noted that while overweight and obesity are known risk factors for heart disease, the standard practice for addressing cardiovascular disease is to treat other risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, and diabetes. This is the first study to show that treating weight directly through a pharmaceutical intervention can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular events. Effective treatments for weight management have historically been relatively limited, possibly due to biases and perceptions surrounding weight. However, this trial and its results show that treating weight directly appears to have promising effects on cardiovascular disease.

Sources: The New England Journal of Medicine, Science Daily

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
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