London, Nov 13 (IANS): Novo Nordisk's obesity drug semaglutide (marketed as Wegovy) can significantly reduce risk of major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) by 20 per cent in adults with established cardiovascular disease (CVD) and overweight or obesity without diabetes, finds a major study.
The study conducted by the Danish pharma giant showed that the risk reductions were evident soon after initiation, suggesting an effect of semaglutide 2.4 mg beyond weight loss alone. The risk reductions were also consistent across age, gender, ethnicity and starting body mass index (BMI).
The study, which included 17,604 adults from 41 countries, who were 45 years or older and had a preexisting cardiovascular disease and a body-mass index of 27 or greater -- but no history of diabetes.
The results showed that the risk of non-fatal myocardial infarction or heart attack was reduced by 28 per cent compared to placebo, the risk of cardiovascular death was reduced by 15 per cent and the risk of non-fatal stroke was reduced by 7 per cent compared to placebo.
Semaglutide -- the once-weekly injection used to help in weight loss -- also helped lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
The findings were presented at the recent American Heart Association (AHA) annual Scientific Sessions in Philadelphia and simultaneously also published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).
Every year almost 18 million people die from CVD which is the leading cause of disability and death worldwide. While cardiovascular mortality has decreased over the past two decades, obesity-related cardiovascular deaths have increased significantly. Obesity leads to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality and is associated with risk factors such as high blood pressure and inflammation.
“For the first time, we have evidence that semaglutide 2.4 mg improves cardiovascular outcomes in at-risk patients with BMI of 27 and above with established CVD, without diabetes,” said lead study Dr Michael Lincoff, vice chair for research in the Cleveland Clinic Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, and a paid consultant for Novo Nordisk, in a statement.
“The three-point MACE risk reduction observed in SELECT suggests the potential for a new option in obesity treatment, addressing some of the leading causes of preventable death worldwide,” he added.
Further, the risk of composite heart failure events, comprising cardiovascular death, urgent heart failure visits and hospitalisations, was reduced by 18 per cent compared to placebo and the risk of death from any cause was reduced by 19 per cent compared to placebo.
Novo Nordisk has requested the Food and Drug Administration include heart benefits on Wegovy’s label, like on Ozempic’s label.