Semaglutide and other glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists represent an exciting new avenue for preventing and treating heart disease, according to several recent studies. These injectable drugs were originally developed to treat diabetes and obesity, but new trial data suggests they may also benefit cardiovascular health.
Semaglutide trials demonstrate reduced heart disease risk
The SELECT trial, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that semaglutide significantly reduced the risk of cardiovascular events like stroke and heart attack in people with overweight or obesity.
Over a median 2.4 years follow-up, participants receiving semaglutide saw a:
- 30% lower risk of heart attack
- 27% reduced risk of stroke
- 26% decreased risk of cardiovascular death
This builds on previous research showing efficacy for diabetes and obesity. As Dr. Deepak L. Bhatt of Brigham and Women’s Hospital told TCTMD:
“We already knew that semaglutide helps with glycemic control and weight loss. Now there’s a trifecta – it also helps prevent cardiovascular events.”
GLP-1 drugs emerge as potential game-changer for heart failure
Heart failure patients also stand to benefit. The SELECT-HF trial, published in JACC: Heart Failure, found that semaglutide improved quality of life and reduced cardiovascular death and hospitalizations compared to placebo.
As principal investigator Dr. Adriaan Voors concluded:
“This is a potential game changer for the millions of patients with heart failure and obesity.”
|Total HF Events
Positive implications for healthcare spending
Wider adoption of GLP-1 drugs could substantially reduce healthcare costs associated with heart disease – the leading cause of death in the United States.
As analyzed by Investing.com, using these treatments preventatively could avoid:
- 7.1 million cardiovascular events
- $47.7 billion in related hospital costs through 2030
This makes a compelling case for updating clinical guidelines to recommend GLP-1 drugs for select heart disease patients.
Next steps: real world evidence and expanded access
While trial findings are highly promising, real world data on long-term safety and efficacy will be important. Doctors also face challenges around insurance coverage and injection burden.
As Dr. Deepak Bhatt reflected:
“I think the next wave of research will be examining its use in the real world rather than in the clinical trial world.”
If positive evidence continues building, experts predict cardiovascular indications for GLP-1 drugs could be approved within 2 years. This could massively expand the patient population eligible for these potentially revolutionary therapies.
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