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Wegovy Can Help Heart Failure Patients Reduce Meds: Study
  • Posted May 13, 2024

Wegovy Can Help Heart Failure Patients Reduce Meds: Study

People with heart failure are often prescribed what are known as loop diuretic medications to help reduce the fluid buildup that's a hallmark of the disease.

Now, research suggests that taking the blockbuster weight loss drug Wegovy (semaglutide) can help patients reduce their need for diuretics.

After a year taking Wegovy, "there was evidence of a significant reduction in average loop diuretic dose, a lower likelihood of diuretic treatment escalation, and a greater likelihood of diuretic treatment de-escalation with semaglutide versus placebo," said study lead author Dr. Kavita Sharma, associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Her team described its findings Monday in Lisbon, Portugal, at Heart Failure 2024, a meeting of the European Society of Cardiology.

The type of heart failure the Hopkins' study focused on was "heart failure with preserved ejection fraction" (HFePF). 

In this common form of the disease, the "heart pumps normally but is too stiff to fill properly, rendering the heart unable to support the body's need for oxygen-rich blood," according to a meeting news release.

A total of 1,145 patients with HFePF were enrolled in the international trial.  Patients were obese (body mass index, BMI, at or above 30) and averaged 70 years of age; half were men and half were women. 

At the start, 220 patients were not receiving diuretics, 223 were receiving non-loop diuretics only, and 702 were receiving loop diuretics.

All participants received either a "dummy" placebo injection or a Wegovy shot once a week for 52 weeks. 

Patients taking Wegovy typically lost a significant amount of weight over that time. 

Compared to folks getting the placebo injection, patients not taking a diuretic who were given Wegovy lost 8.8% of their body weight on average, while those who were on the highest dose of loop diuretics saw an average 6.9% average drop in their weight, Sharma's team reported.

Taking Wegovy also seemed tied to improvements in other heart failure measurements, such as performance on a standard six-minute walking test.

Most significantly, patients who'd taken Wegovy for a year saw their need for loop diuretics decline by 17% on average, compared to an average 2.4% increase in diuretic use among those who got the placebo, the researchers said.

Finally, the trial found that "there were fewer serious adverse events with semaglutide vs. placebo across diuretic subgroups," according to the meeting news release. 

Overall, "semaglutide improved symptoms, physical limitations and led to greater weight loss across diuretic use categories in patients with HFpEF," Sharma said. 

Adding in the decline in need for diuretics, the findings attest to the "disease-modifying effects of semaglutide ... [that are] associated with better long-term clinical outcomes in this patient population," she said.

Because these findings were presented at a medical meeting, they should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

Find out more about the treatment options for heart failure at the American Heart Association.

SOURCE: Heart Failure 2024, news release, May 13, 2024

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