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Study: Semaglutide Can Cut Heart Attack, Stroke Risk

In a study that bodes well for anti-obesity drugs in general, researchers determined that Novo Nordisk’s prescription weight-loss drug Wegovy “cut the risk of heart attack, stroke or death from cardiovascular issues by 20 percent among overweight or obese people with heart disease,” according to The New York Times (subscription).

What’s going on: Released last weekend at an American Heart Association meeting in Philadelphia, the Novo Nordisk–funded study on Wegovy—a brand name for semaglutide—represents “a turning point for the sought-after new class of obesity and diabetes drugs.”

  • The study, which “is the longest and largest yet of semaglutide,” followed more than 17,000 adults aged 45 and up for up to five years. Most were white men who were already taking statins, drugs used to lower cholesterol.
  • Other anti-obesity drugs on the market include Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro and Trulicity and Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic and Victoza.

Why it’s important: “Among those who received a weekly placebo shot, 8 percent had a heart attack, stroke or died from a cardiovascular event, compared to 6.5 percent of participants who took Wegovy,” which shows that the drug “might prevent some of the most serious cardiovascular issues among people at high risk.”

  • The weight loss experienced by patients on the drug could account for some of the difference in outcomes between the placebo and Wegovy groups—but not all of it, one source told the Times.
  • Those in the study who took the drug “had lower blood pressure and better blood sugar control, and showed signs of lower inflammation, which all could lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

The NAM says: “Obesity is a chronic health issue in the American working population, impeding productivity and putting manufacturing workers at risk for additional health challenges,” said NAM Director of Domestic Policy Julia Bogue. 

  • “The NAM’s recently released study on employer-sponsored health care highlights chronic conditions, including obesity, and the great deal of time, money and effort manufacturers invest to ensure employees have the care they need.”
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