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The FDA recently approved the use of Wegovy, a semaglutide-containing medication, to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular death, heart attack, and stroke in adults with heart disease who have obesity or are overweight. Semaglutide was originally approved by the FDA in 2017 to treat type 2 diabetes in adults. This new indication recommends using semaglutide in addition to a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity. The medication, developed by Novo Nordisk, belongs to a class of drugs known as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists, originally developed to treat diabetes but increasingly popular for weight loss as well.

Recent studies have shown a connection between semaglutide and improved cardiovascular health. Dr. Cheng-Han Chen, a cardiologist, explained how weight loss and improved weight control from drugs like semaglutide can impact risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The FDA’s approval for the new indication is based on the results of the SELECT cardiovascular outcomes clinical trial, which showed that Wegovy significantly reduced the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events by 20% in adults with obesity or overweight and established cardiovascular disease. This medication also reduced cardiovascular death risk by 15% and overall death risk by 19%.

Experts believe the FDA’s approval for the use of semaglutide in cardiovascular health is crucial in addressing the significant public health issue of cardiovascular disease, particularly when associated with obesity. Dr. Matthew Saybolt emphasized the importance of finding safe treatments that decrease the chance of death or complications related to cardiovascular conditions. Dr. Angela Fitch, president of the Obesity Medicine Association, sees the approval as a step in the right direction for getting potentially life-saving medication to patients with heart disease. Semaglutide works by mimicking the GLP-1 hormone in the body, increasing insulin production, reducing blood sugar levels, and decreasing appetite and cravings.

Current semaglutide medications on the market include Wegovy for weight loss and cardiovascular risk reduction, Ozempic, and Rybelsus for type 2 diabetes treatment. Off-label use of these medications for weight loss is also common. As research continues, potential new uses for semaglutide are being explored, such as reducing kidney disease progression. Dr. Ali believes that as more studies focus on different areas, we may see more research on the various effects of semaglutide. Dr. Fitch anticipates the FDA continuing to approve GLP-1 medications for use in combating other health issues beyond diabetes, obesity, and now, cardiovascular disease.

Overall, the approval of Wegovy for cardiovascular risk reduction in adults with heart disease and obesity or overweight is a significant development in the medical field. Semaglutide and other GLP-1 medications have shown promising effects on cardiovascular health, weight loss, and other conditions, giving hope for more effective treatments for various chronic diseases in the future. Research and ongoing studies will continue to explore the potential benefits and applications of semaglutide in improving overall health and wellbeing.

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