The medicine behind Ozempic and Wegovy, called semaglutide, has been found to have remarkable benefits for heart health, reducing the risk of stroke or cardiac arrest even in those who do not lose weight. The data from the largest and longest clinical trial on semaglutide use amongst those without diabetes, known as the Semaglutide and Cardiovascular Outcomes (SELECT) trial, has revealed groundbreaking results.

The SELECT trial involved approximately 17,600 overweight or obese adults with pre-existing cardiovascular disease and was funded by the drug manufacturer, Novo Nordisk. Research from last year demonstrated that weekly injections of semaglutide, administered for over three years, can lower the risk of stroke, heart attack, or fatal cardiovascular events by nearly 20 percent, on average.

A new study led by cardiologist John Deanfield from University College London has further shown that the cardiovascular benefits of semaglutide occur irrespective of weight loss. Regardless of a participant’s initial weight or the weight they shed while on semaglutide, their risk of an adverse cardiovascular event decreased by a similar amount between 2018 and 2023.

Semaglutide, originally designed to treat diabetes, has gained recognition for its ability to curb appetite and promote rapid weight loss. Nonetheless, there is speculation among scientists that treating obesity with semaglutide is crucial for improving cardiovascular health, and there might be additional advantages. An analysis of the SELECT trial published in Nature Medicine found sustained weight loss – an average of 10 percent over four years – across various demographics. This significant weight loss suggests the possibility of reducing the public health burden of obesity-related illnesses.

While some of the health benefits of semaglutide may be attributed to the treatment of obesity, there could be unknown mechanisms at play that extend beyond fat reduction. Researchers have presented these new findings at the European Congress on Obesity, prompting further discussion and analysis in the scientific community.

Although semaglutide has shown promising results in improving heart health and aiding weight loss, there are concerns about the long-term effects of the drug. Studies indicate that once semaglutide injections are discontinued, patients tend to regain a significant portion of the weight they lost within a year. Additional research is necessary to understand the lasting impact of weight loss and cardiovascular risks post-semaglutide treatment. Experts caution against widespread use of the drug until further investigations are conducted to comprehensively understand its mechanisms.

The unexpected effects of Ozempic and Wegovy on heart health could potentially revolutionize the understanding of obesity and cardiovascular disease. With ongoing research and analysis, the true potential of semaglutide in improving public health and combating chronic diseases may be fully realized.

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