December 1, 2023

For people with overweight or obesity, the weight loss drug Wegovy (semaglutide) can reduce the risk of developing or dying from events like heart attacks and strokes, according to preliminary results from a new study that offers the first major evidence that the medicine has cardiovascular benefits.

For the study, researchers randomly assigned 17,604 adults with overweight or obesity to take either a placebo or a 2.4 milligram (mg) dose of Wegovy. At the start of the study, all the patients had heart disease but none of them had type 2 diabetes.

After five years, participants on Wegovy were 20 percent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke, or die from causes related to cardiovascular disease, the drug’s developer Novo Nordisk said in a statement announcing the study’s preliminary results. The results haven’t yet been published in a medical journal, a process that typically allows independent experts to verify the findings. Novo Nordisk said it plans to present detailed study results at a medical conference later this year.

“This is very exciting news,” says Shauna Levy, MD, an assistant professor of surgery and the medical director of the bariatric and weight loss center at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, who wasn’t involved in the study. “I am not surprised by this data. We know that Wegovy leads to weight loss and improvements in cholesterol and hypertension, which are all risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”

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