Health/Sci-TechLifestyleVOLUME 18 ISSUE # 41

Weight loss drug also works against heart failure: study

The weight loss drug Wegovy is good for people with obesity who also have the most common form of heart failure, according to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Wegovy reduces heart failure symptoms, results in weight loss, and improves the ability to exercise in people with obesity with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), says the study funded by the company that makes Wegovy. In heart failure with preserved ejection fraction, the heart doesn’t fill with blood properly when it’s at rest between heartbeats.

The study said 529 people with obesity with HFpEF were given a 2.4-milligram weekly dose of semaglutide, the drug that is sold as Wegovy, or a placebo. After a year, the people who took Wegovy had a 16.6-point improvement on a 100-point scale in the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire, whereas the people who took the placebo had an 8.7-point improvement.

People who took Wegovy lost around 13.3% of their weight, compared to a 2.6% weight loss for people who took the placebo. In a 6-minute walk test, people who took the drug ended up being able to walk an average of 20 meters farther than people who took the placebo. “This is the largest treatment benefit we’ve ever seen for that endpoint in this patient population with any drug,” the heart doctor who led the trial, Mikhail Kosiborod, MD, told CNN.  (Kosiborod is also the vice president for research at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, MO.)

The study “heralds a possible fundamental paradigm shift in how cardiologists approach HFpEF in people with obesity,” he said in a news release from the drug’s maker, Novo Nordisk. The study was funded by Novo Nordisk and was scheduled to be presented on Friday to the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress in Amsterdam.

In the news release, Novo Nordisk said 64 million people worldwide live with heart failure, with HFpEF making up 50% of all cases. About 80% of people with HFpEF are overweight or obese, the company said. The company announced that problems in the heart and blood vessels such as heart attacks and strokes were reduced about 20% among patients taking Wegovy.