The Lamen

Wegovy cuts the risk of heart disease by 20 percent in obese patients

A bar graph for the breast cancer rates among women of different ethnicities.

Wegovy produces some “magical” results for weight loss, but we might just be at the surface of what these drugs can achieve.

Illustration: The Lamen

Published on Aug 24, 2023

Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer behind the anti-obesity drug Wegovy, recently announced that their drug can reduce the risk of serious heart conditions and cardiovascular death by 20 percent.

  • The trial involved 17,604 adults with overweight or obesity who had cardiovascular disease (CVD) but no history of diabetes.
  • Being injected with 2.4 mg of semaglutide (sold under brand names Wegovy and Ozempic) once a week reduced the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) for up to 5 years.

The new trial underscores the connection between obesity and heart health. Not just about body fat, it triggers a biochemical cascade associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, obstructive sleep apnea, and even some cancers.

  • Obesity increases the risk of dyslipidemia, hypertension, and diabetes, as well as elevated levels of fibrinogen and C-reactive protein, significantly increasing the risk of CVD.
  • A survey found that compared to normal-weight adults, 51 percent of obese adults had hypertension, 21 percent had a heart attack, and 8 percent had ischemic heart disease.

It’s not clear how semaglutide reduces the risk of a serious cardiovascular event. These GLP-1 receptor agonists have shown benefits on blood pressure, inflammation, and the inner lining of blood vessels, which could explain the protective effect.

  • A question on the long-term efficacy of these drugs still remains unexplored, as studies have previously reported weight relapse in obese individuals when the treatment was stopped.

What’s next: As the full publication of the study follows, Novo Nordisk expects broader approval for Wegovy for treating a number of health conditions. Experts also expect these results to advocate for better coverage of the drug under insurance, as the $1,300-a-month price has kept it inaccessible for many.