There are more than 60 million people worldwide who regularly suffer from pain caused by various symptoms of heart failure. In order to search for a solution to this problem, scientists recently tested a popular weight-loss anti-obesity drug, semaglutide (sold as Wijovi). on 529 heart failure patients to see how it affected them.
Until recently, Semaglutide was only known to target obesity and diabetes. However, new trial results suggest that it can also reduce symptoms of heart failure and improve overall heart health. By reducing inflammation and blood pressure.
Surprisingly, more than 80 percent of heart failure patients in the United States are also obese. The study results further highlighted the relationship between obesity and heart failure.
“It is clear that we cannot continue to treat obesity as it is accidentally happening to these patients. It is likely the root cause of complications and should be treated as such.” Mikhail Kossiborod, lead researcher and cardiologist at St. Luke’s Health System in Kansas City.
The effect of Semaglutide on heart patients
Researchers tested Semaglutide versus placebo (an inactive drug with no health benefit). In 529 individuals with a body mass index of more than 30 and suffering from heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF).
The ejection fraction is a measurement of the volume of blood pumped by the human heart during each heartbeat. Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) occurs when the heart’s main pumping chamber, the left ventricle, experiences higher pressure during filling. Even though the amount of blood being pumped out is within the normal range.
High filling pressure results from stiffening of the heart muscles caused by several factors. Such as high blood pressure, infections, and many other conditions. This high pressure also leads to symptoms of heart failure such as fatigue, swelling in body parts, and shortness of breath.
During the study, the researcher administered a 2.4 mg dose of semaglutide (Wegovy) to one group of patients weekly. Meanwhile, patients in another group received the same amount of placebo. The trial lasted for 52 weeks.
Kosiborod and his team then analyzed the symptoms of heart failure in both patients using a 100-point scale. Where 100 represents the maximum improvement and one point indicates the least improvement in the patient’s condition.
What did the researchers find?
They found that patients who took the anti-obesity drug Semaglutide saw a 17-point improvement in HFpEF symptoms. They also underwent a 13 percent loss in body weight. On the other hand, patients in the placebo group scored only nine points and lost only 2.6% of their body weight.
The researchers also conducted an interesting six-minute walk test, during which they observed that heart failure patients taking the anti-obesity drug semaglutide walked 66 feet (20 meters) longer than patients taking a placebo.
“In patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction and obesity, treatment with semaglutide (2.4 mg) resulted in greater reductions in symptoms and physical limitations, greater improvements in exercise function, and greater weight loss than placebo,” the study authors noted.
The anti-obesity drug Semaglutide could open new treatment avenues
Aside from some diuretics and antidiabetic medications, there is currently no other treatment that promises to relieve symptoms in heart failure patients. Even existing medications provide only temporary relief.
The current study suggests that semaglutide could emerge as a new and effective treatment option for heart failure patients. The drug reduces symptoms of HFpEF and also improves overall heart health by reducing obesity, high blood pressure, and inflammation.
What’s even more amazing is that during the trials, none of the patients experienced any serious side effects. They only experienced some minor digestive problems, which is normal for the class of drugs to which Semaglutide belongs.
Researchers also hope that the drug will prove effective in future trials and help millions of heart patients around the world.
The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The prevalence of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction is increasing. It is associated with a higher symptom burden and functional impairment, especially in people with obesity. No treatments have been approved to target obesity-related heart failure while preserving ejection fraction. We randomly assigned 529 patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction and body mass index (weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters) of 30 or higher to receive semaglutide (2.4 mg) once weekly or placebo. For 52 weeks. The dual primary endpoints were changed from the baseline in the clinical summary score.
For the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire (KCCQ-CSS), Scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating fewer symptoms (physical limitations) and a change in body weight. Confirmatory secondary endpoints included a change in the 6-minute walk distance. A hierarchical composite endpoint includes death, heart failure events, differences in change in KCCQ-CSS and 6-minute walk distance, and the change in the level of C-reactive protein (CRP).