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Anti-obesity pill also guards against heart disease

August 28, 2023: Wegovy, the popular significance loss pill from Novo Nordisk, greatly decreased symptoms of a common type of heart failure in patients with obesity, according to a late-stage clinical trial released Friday.

Wegovy helped clear signs such as shortness of breath, fatigue, leg swelling, and irregular heartbeat. It also resulted in lower blood pressure and decreased inflammation, two important markers of heart health.

The results add to Wegovy’s growing list of potential health benefits beyond shedding unwanted pounds. That could lead to expanded drug use and improved coverage by insurers. The results also complement the groundbreaking trial data Novo Nordisk released earlier this month, which found that Wegovy slashed the risk of heart-related severe issues by 20%.

“We look forward to working closely with the clinical community and regulators to help realize this potential over the coming months,” Martin Lange, Novo Nordisk’s head of development, said in a release. He was referring to the heart health benefits observed in both trials.

The new study on 529 obese patients focused on a heart condition known as preserved ejection fraction or HFpEF. This condition comprises roughly half of all heart failure cases and occurs when the heart’s lower chamber pumps less blood than the body needs.

An estimated 2.5 million people in the U.S. have that condition, and more than 80% of those patients also have obesity.

The study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that Wegovy led to a nearly 17-point improvement on a 100-point scale used to assess HFpEF symptoms.

By comparison, patients who received a placebo had a nine-point improvement.

Wegovy also improved physical limitations: Patients who took the drug could walk further in six minutes than those in the placebo group.

During the year-long trial, those on Wegovy also lost about 13% of their body weight, compared with 2.6% for those on placebo.

There were fewer serious safety events in patients who took Wegovy than those who took the placebo. However, more patients stopped taking Wegovy because of gastrointestinal issues commonly observed with other weight-loss drugs.

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