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Injection for weight loss may lower the risk of heart attacks

The study, funded by a pharmaceutical company, indicates that injections targeting obesity, specifically with semaglutide, could lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes, regardless of significant weight loss.

Semaglutide, available through the NHS as Wegovy and Ozempic, suppresses appetite, and researchers suggest that weekly injections may enhance cardiovascular health for numerous adults.

Although these findings have yet to be published in a journal, they were presented at a conference. According to Professor John Deanfield, the lead researcher, semaglutide may positively impact blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and inflammation, as well as directly affect heart muscles and blood vessels.

The research, conducted by University College London (UCL) with a participant pool of 17,604 individuals over the age of 44 from 41 countries, initially demonstrated cardiovascular benefits. Now, additional data from the same Select trial, sponsored by Novo Nordisk, suggests that these benefits extend regardless of a person’s initial weight and subsequent weight loss.

‘Major breakthrough’

Prof. Deanfield highlighted the significant clinical implications of the study, comparing its importance to the introduction of statins for cholesterol in the 1990s. He emphasized that the findings could revolutionize the treatment of various age-related chronic diseases.

Semaglutide, the active ingredient in Wegovy and Ozempic, is compared to Hollywood’s “skinny jab,” but experts caution it’s not a quick fix and should be supervised medically.

Common side effects include nausea, upset stomach, and weight regain post-treatment cessation. Semaglutide, mimicking GLP-1 hormone, suppresses appetite and is administered weekly via pre-filled pens, prescribed by doctors to overweight or obese patients.

Risk reduction

The analysis focused on the time until patients experienced major cardiovascular events or developed heart failure. After 20 weeks of treatment, 62% of patients lost more than 5% of their body weight compared to 10% in the placebo group.

Surprisingly, the risk reduction for heart attacks, stroke, or heart failure was similar regardless of the amount of weight lost. Professor Deanfield emphasized the potential of the drug in treating obesity-related conditions, noting its benefits beyond weight loss.

However, Professor Shakur urged caution, citing uncertainties about the drug’s mechanism and potential risks such as pancreatitis and thyroid cancers.

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