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New Wegovy Clinical Trial Reveals Surprising Benefits That Go Far Beyond Weight Loss

LOS ANGELES (KABC)– Over the past few years, we have learned how semaglutide weight loss medications can help with heart failure and heart attacks. This week, at the European Obesity Congress, researchers released the overall results of the longest clinical trial ever conducted of the drug Wegovy, the weight-loss version of Ozempic.

After four years of monitoring patients, the selected trial revealed how quickly it works, whether patients maintain their weight, and something else surprising.

“The beneficial effects on cardiovascular health appear independent of weight loss,” said Dr. Mir Ali, director of bariatric surgery at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center. He said the new analysis funded by Novo Nordisk suggests something else is at play, as a significant reduction in heart attacks and strokes was present even among Wegovy users who did not lose weight .

“These medications can have an effect on inflammation, and chronic inflammation can contribute to many health problems,” he said.

Blood sugar control may be another factor. Whether this once-weekly subcutaneous medication should be prescribed to heart patients without obesity still requires further study.

But for weight loss, the results show that the average reduction in body weight of about 10 percent continued for a year and was more or less sustained for four years.

“When people stopped these types of medications, they did gain weight, but it was not as dramatic as previously reported,” Ali said.

When it comes to safety, there are no surprises. Serious side effects such as gastroparesis were rare. The most common nausea, diarrhea, and constipation are why some people stopped taking it. High costs, even with insurance, are another reason.

“Patients can have a large copayment. That’s not sustainable for a lot of people,” he said.

Ali said people should remember that Wegovy and other similar weight loss drugs aren’t magic potions — you still have to do the work.

“The goal of these interventions is to provide tools to help the patient adopt a healthier diet and lifestyle,” Ali said.

Ali also explained how difficult it is for his patients to get Wegoy or its competitor Zepbound due to its popularity. Novo Nordisk says more than 25,000 people in the United States start Wegovy every week.

MORE: Doctors speak out about the shortage of weight-loss drugs

The FDA reports that shortages of popular weight-loss drugs are getting worse as patients struggle to fill their prescriptions.

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