People with type 2 diabetes at high risk of developing heart problems can lower their risk of death from heart attack or stroke by taking semaglutide, research has revealed.
Semaglutide, a GLP-1 agonist made by Novo Nordisk, is designed to boost the body’s insulin production when blood sugar levels are elevated.
The drug is currently in phase III of clinical trials and if trials prove to be successful the drug will be submitted for approval. The drug is currently not available to the public.
This study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, investigated the cardiovascular safety of semaglutide in patients with type 2 diabetes, all of whom were at high cardiovascular risk.
The trial was carried out at 230 sites in 20 countries and saw approximately 3,300 people with type 2 diabetes who were on a standard-care regime randomly picked to receive a once weekly 0.5mg or 1.0mg dose of semaglutide or a placebo for 104 weeks.
Of those people 83 per cent had established cardiovascular disease and/or chronic kidney disease.
Scientists were examining cardiovascular deaths, non-fatal heart attacks and strokes, and discovered these outcomes were only present in 6.6 per cent of the semaglutide group and 8.9 per cent of the placebo group.
Overall, 2.9 per cent of people who were taking semaglutide had a heart attack but did not die; the rate was higher at 3.9 per cent in the other group. The rate of nonfatal stroke in the two groups was 1.6 per cent and 2.7 per cent, respectively.
The researchers concluded: “Rates of death from cardiovascular causes were similar in the two groups. The researchers report that although rates of new or worsening nephropathy were lower in the semaglutide group, rates of retinopathy complications were significantly higher.
“Overall, there were fewer serious adverse events in the semaglutide group. The findings confirm the researchers’ hypothesis that semaglutide was noninferior to placebo for patients with type 2 diabetes at high cardiovascular risk.”
Earlier this year, a separate study found that semaglutide reduced the risk of heart disease by 26 per cent in people with type 2 diabetes.

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