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Popular weight-loss medication prevents severe heart complications, new study suggests

Common weight-loss drug liraglutide prevents cardiovascular disease by reducing certain types of fat that are known to trigger heart problems, latest research reveals.

Academics from the UT Southwestern Medical Center have found that liraglutide can destroy visceral and ectopic fat, protecting obese individuals from developing heart complications.

Following an active lifestyle is also known to stop cardiovascular disease from progressing.

Visceral fat is stowed inside the abdominal cavity, surrounding vital organs, including the intestines, liver and pancreas.

Whereas, ectopic fat is kept in tissues that usually carry tiny amounts of fat, for example the skeletal muscle, pancreas, heart and liver.

Top researcher Dr Parag Joshi said: “Our study used the latest imaging technology to evaluate different fat components in the body.

“The main finding was a significant decrease in visceral fat in patients without diabetes but who were overweight or had obesity.

“These results show the potential of liraglutide treatment for significantly lowering the risk of chronic disease in this population.”

The scientists injected 185 individuals with liraglutide every day for more than 40 weeks to assess how effective the drug is in reducing fat.

After the trial, the greatest results were found in the liver, closely followed by the abdominal tissues.

Additionally, liraglutide also decreased fasting blood sugar levels and inflammation in participants without diabetes.

According to the researchers, positive results were measured across all races, ethnicities, BMI groups and for those with prediabetes.

Previous research from the same academics have concluded that those with type 2 diabetes who are prescribed liraglutide are less likely to die than those who take placebo, with results revealing that heart-related deaths were more common amongst people being treated with placebo.

Dr Joshi said: “Our findings help add a possible mechanism for why there is a benefit of liraglutide on cardiovascular outcomes while also showing its benefits in people without diabetes.”

One in every four adults and one in every five children are obese, increasing the overall risk of heart disease and death.

“Excess visceral fat and ectopic (e.g., liver) fat are central to the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” said Dr Joshi.

The full set of results can now be accessed in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal.

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