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Wegovy heart health news marks “a day to remember” for obesity treatment

Gregory Curtis, MD
Aug 10, 2023

On Tuesday, August 9, Novo Nordisk announced the headline results of a large study that revealed that Semaglutide (also known as Wegovy/Ozempic®) reduces the risk of heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular deaths by 20%. According to Novo, “the trial enrolled 17,604 adults aged 45 years or older with overweight or obesity and established cardiovascular disease (CVD) with no prior history of diabetes.” This landmark study marks the first time that a weight management medication has been shown to improve cardiovascular health in people who do not have diabetes.

We support patients in their unique goals, whether they want to change their body size or not. But as many patients know, for those interested in weight loss, insurance coverage can be spotty. knownwell's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Angela Fitch told the Washington Post that this announcement was a “day to remember” for the treatment of obesity and improves how insurance companies will look at these medications going forward.

“To have insurance companies and Medicare deny coverage to a patient is a different issue after this study is published,” Dr. Fitch said. “To deny [patients] access to treatment to prevent cardiovascular events is different than one that creates weight loss [which has often been seen as merely “cosmetic”].”

“These results are a landmark in cardiovascular disease prevention and will mark a paradigm shift in treating patients living with overweight and obesity,” Dr. Alexander J. Blood, a cardiologist and critical care physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School instructor and knownwell advisor said. “Part of a tide change in treating overweight and obesity as a purely cosmetic consideration and into its rightful place as a chronic disease with significant benefits to appropriate treatment as demonstrated in the top-line results of this trial.”

Dr. Blood also stated that these results could be just the beginning as this is one of multiple trials expected to publish outcomes in high-risk patient populations in the coming months.

“These outcomes are a call to action for patients and healthcare providers alike,” Dr. Blood said.

Dr. Ania Jastreboff, an obesity-treatment specialist and professor at Yale University School of Medicine, told the Wall Street Journal that this was a “pivotal trial.”

“Here you’re demonstrating clear improvement in health outcome,” Dr. Jastreboff said.

Novo Nordisk also stated that it plans to apply for regulatory approvals in the US and European Union to add the heart health benefit indication to Wegovy’s prescribing label.

Although the full results of this study have yet to be published, we are encouraged by this development and what it means for the cardiovascular wellness of patients across the country.

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