Could Wegovy and Similar Meds Be Good for Your Heart?

​​​​​​​​​​Weight-loss medications make headlines daily. But one has researchers especially interested. A newly released study of Wegovy® shows the drug may do more than help you lose weight.

An analysis of a four-year clinical trial connects Wegovy to a 20% reduced risk of heart attack, stroke and heart-related death. And researchers don't think it's the weight loss alone that's impacting the heart in a positive way. The drug, they say, could be working in other ways to improve heart health. ​​

“This is certainly welcome news," says Thomas O'Brien, MD, president of The Christ Hospital Heart & Vascular Institute, who was not part of the recent Wegovy study. “We had some expectation that if people lose weight, they will have fewer heart events. But to see a 20% reduction in events—that's a big number."

What is Wegovy?

Wegovy (semaglutide) is a prescription medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for chronic weight management in adults. Wegovy belongs to a class of drugs called GLP-1 receptor agonists. These mimic a gut hormone that helps regulate appetite and food intake. Wegovy enhances the feeling of fullness to help people reduce their calorie intake and lose weight.

The link between weight loss and heart health

Obesity is a well-known risk factor for a range of cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and stroke. By helping people achieve and maintain a healthier weight, medications like Wegovy may indirectly benefit heart health.

However, the latest research shows that Wegovy's weight loss impact may not be its only contribution to heart protection. Even people who didn't lose weight experienced improvements in heart health.

“There's an oversimplification, sometimes, in discussions about weight loss," Dr. O'Brien says. “It's not about achieving a lower number on the scale or a cosmetic result.

“When you dig in, there are so many layers of problems triggered by excess fat. Excess weight can alter hormones, increase inflammation and raise cholesterol​. It can also lead to insulin resistance and clogged arteries," he says.

GLP-1 drugs like Wegovy can lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol and reduce inflammation. Dr. O'Brien and others think inflammation reduction could be the most protective benefit of the medication for the heart.

Don't run to your doctor just yet

While Wegovy offers many benefits, its use as a heart-health medication isn't ready for prime time.

“I hope we get to the point where we use tools like these to reverse the overweight- and obesity-related processes that lead to cardiovascular problems," Dr. O'Brien says. “Prevention is what we need when it comes to heart disease, and this research is promising.

“But we need more data from a larger population that includes people of different ages and baseline health measurements."

Dr. O'Brien also says that drugs like Wegovy are in short supply.

“Getting a drug like this and getting it paid for by insurance is a struggle for so many," Dr. O'Brien says. “Unfortunately, this clouds our ability to offer these medications as far and as wide as we may want to."

Dr. O'Brien cautions people about getting alternatives online or from other sources like medical spas and compounding pharmacies.

“These facilities aren't the same as FDA-regulated pharmacies," Dr. O'Brien says. “They don't come under the same scrutiny, and questions have been raised about the purity and safety of the weight loss medications they offer."  


​If you want to learn more about heart health, contact The Christ Hospital Physicians – Heart & Vascular. You can schedule an appointment online or call 513.585.3000.



Thomas O'Brien, MD

Thomas O’Brien, MD, is a cardiologist with The Christ Hospital Physicians – Heart & Vascular. He is triple board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, with specialization in Cardiovascular Disease, Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant, and Echocardiography.

Could Wegovy and Similar Meds Be Good for Your Heart? Injected weight loss drugs are grabbing headlines. The longest running safety study is out with new information on side effects and impacts on cardiovascular risk factors. Heart failure specialist Dr. Thomas O’Brien breaks down the findings.

​​​​​​​​​​Weight-loss medications make headlines daily. But one has researchers especially interested. A newly released study of Wegovy® shows the drug may do more than help you lose weight.

An analysis of a four-year clinical trial connects Wegovy to a 20% reduced risk of heart attack, stroke and heart-related death. And researchers don't think it's the weight loss alone that's impacting the heart in a positive way. The drug, they say, could be working in other ways to improve heart health. ​​

“This is certainly welcome news," says Thomas O'Brien, MD, president of The Christ Hospital Heart & Vascular Institute, who was not part of the recent Wegovy study. “We had some expectation that if people lose weight, they will have fewer heart events. But to see a 20% reduction in events—that's a big number."

What is Wegovy?

Wegovy (semaglutide) is a prescription medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for chronic weight management in adults. Wegovy belongs to a class of drugs called GLP-1 receptor agonists. These mimic a gut hormone that helps regulate appetite and food intake. Wegovy enhances the feeling of fullness to help people reduce their calorie intake and lose weight.

The link between weight loss and heart health

Obesity is a well-known risk factor for a range of cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and stroke. By helping people achieve and maintain a healthier weight, medications like Wegovy may indirectly benefit heart health.

However, the latest research shows that Wegovy's weight loss impact may not be its only contribution to heart protection. Even people who didn't lose weight experienced improvements in heart health.

“There's an oversimplification, sometimes, in discussions about weight loss," Dr. O'Brien says. “It's not about achieving a lower number on the scale or a cosmetic result.

“When you dig in, there are so many layers of problems triggered by excess fat. Excess weight can alter hormones, increase inflammation and raise cholesterol​. It can also lead to insulin resistance and clogged arteries," he says.

GLP-1 drugs like Wegovy can lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol and reduce inflammation. Dr. O'Brien and others think inflammation reduction could be the most protective benefit of the medication for the heart.

Don't run to your doctor just yet

While Wegovy offers many benefits, its use as a heart-health medication isn't ready for prime time.

“I hope we get to the point where we use tools like these to reverse the overweight- and obesity-related processes that lead to cardiovascular problems," Dr. O'Brien says. “Prevention is what we need when it comes to heart disease, and this research is promising.

“But we need more data from a larger population that includes people of different ages and baseline health measurements."

Dr. O'Brien also says that drugs like Wegovy are in short supply.

“Getting a drug like this and getting it paid for by insurance is a struggle for so many," Dr. O'Brien says. “Unfortunately, this clouds our ability to offer these medications as far and as wide as we may want to."

Dr. O'Brien cautions people about getting alternatives online or from other sources like medical spas and compounding pharmacies.

“These facilities aren't the same as FDA-regulated pharmacies," Dr. O'Brien says. “They don't come under the same scrutiny, and questions have been raised about the purity and safety of the weight loss medications they offer."  


​If you want to learn more about heart health, contact The Christ Hospital Physicians – Heart & Vascular. You can schedule an appointment online or call 513.585.3000.



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