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Nature: Anti-Obesity Drug Also Protects Against Heart Disease—What Happens Next?

Nature recently interviewed Martha Gulati, MD, director of Preventive Cardiology in the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai, about an anti-obesity and diabetes medication—semaglutide—that might also help protect against cardiovascular disease.

The medication, sold under the names Wegovy and Ozempic, belongs to a class of medications called GLP-1 agonists.

But “there’s more to them than simply weight loss,” Gulati said of these drugs, which improve fatty-acid metabolism and reduce inflammation. “This is what’s so fascinating about these drugs. They work on the brain, the pancreas, the cardiovascular system, the gastrointestinal tract,” Gulati, the Anita Dann Friedman Endowed Chair in Women’s Cardiovascular Medicine and Research, told Nature.

Early data from a clinical trial suggest that Wegovy could help patients avoid serious heart issues. The results indicate that semaglutide reduced the risk of serious cardiovascular events— including heart attack, stroke and death—by 20%.

Despite these promising results, providers have been hesitant to prescribe the drug to avoid giving hope to patients, only for them to be turned down by their insurance, said Gulati, who was not involved in the study. But physicians are eager to recommend the medication.

“It’s hard to think of other [drugs], apart from statins, that have shown such a profound effect,” Gulati told Nature.

Complete data from the trial will be presented at a conference later this year with hopes it will result in approval of the medication by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for cardiovascular-risk reduction.

If semaglutide becomes more widely accessible, it “will be a game-changer for the clinical practice of preventive cardiology,” Gulati said.

Click here to read the complete article from Nature.