Wegovy’s heart benefits due to more than weight loss: Novo Nordisk

Novo Nordisk on Saturday said the heart protective benefits of its wildly popular Wegovy obesity treatment are due to more than weight loss alone, according to new data presented at a major medical meeting on Saturday.

Early data from the Danish drugmaker’s Select trial released in August demonstrated that Wegovy, which has been shown to help patients lose an average of 15 percent of their weight, also reduced incidence of heart attack, stroke or death from heart disease by 20 percent.

Full results from the study, presented at the American Heart Association annual scientific meeting in Philadelphia in front
of a standing room only crowd and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggest the drug has other beneficial effects beyond the known health benefits from losing weight.

The heart risk difference between patients who received Wegovy, known chemically as semaglutide, and those on placebo began to appear almost immediately after starting treatment, researchers said.

In the study of overweight and obese patients based on body mass index who had preexisting heart disease but not diabetes, Wegovy reduced the risk of non-fatal heart attack by 28 percent, non-fatal stroke by 7 percent and heart-related death by 15 percent compared to a placebo.

Given that patients had not started losing weight when the cardio-vascular benefits first appeared suggests the heart protection was not purely the result of weight loss, Novo said.

Dr Chad Weldy, a cardiologist at Stanford University, said on the sidelines of the conference that it was important to note that the trial did not study how semaglutide might stop heart disease from happening and only looked at how to stop it from getting worse.

Despite that, the size of the patient population covered by this trial should make doctors think about the sorts of patients who should be prescribed Wegovy based on the data.

“Anyone who has had a heart attack or obstructive coronary disease and has a body mass index of more than 27 fits in with this study, which is a very large patient population,” he said.

Dr Bruno Halpern, head of the obesity center at Hospital 9 de Julho in São Paulo, Brazil, also said at the conference that We-govy should now be a frontline treatment for heart disease.

The study researchers said that while understanding of the mechanisms of the cardiovascular protection from semaglutide remain speculative, there was a consistent effect on associated risk factors that support the idea that multiple pathways are behind the drug’s clinical benefit.

The associated risk factors include inflammation, blood pressure, and blood sugar control, all of which can impact heart

John Deanfield, one of the study’s authors and cardiology professor at University College London, said at the medical meeting that the trial data would spur a debate over where Wegovy fits into doctors’ treatments.

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