A new breakthrough in weight loss support

Jun 13, 2024
stepping on scale

If you keep up with the news, chances are good you’ve heard about Ozempic. It has been advertised, written and talked about extensively. This media frenzy reflects the promising class of medications to address obesity.  

It turns out that GLP-1 medications – sold under brand names like Ozempic, Wegovy, Monjouro and Zepbound – are also showing benefit for heart patients.

In a recent On the Pulse webinar from the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, Dr. Michael Miedema, Director of the Nolan Family Center for Cardiovascular Health, addressed common misunderstandings about GLP-1 medications, shared some good news, and confirmed these drugs are not a substitute for time-tested approaches to treating overweight/obesity and heart disease.

Obesity – a key risk factor for heart disease – goes beyond the old mantra of ‘calories in, calories out.’ Overweight/obesity is a complex disease with many contributing factors.  

GLP-1 medications have been tested and proven over 20 years to treat diabetes. More recent studies show that by reducing weight, these drugs significantly reduce cardiovascular risk factors as well. When weight decreases, so does blood pressure, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides, while protective factors like good (HDL) cholesterol can increase.

Results from the SELECT trial, published in 2023, focused on people with overweight or obesity and heart disease – but not diabetes. This study included 17,000 people taking either Wegovy (another brand name for semaglutide) or placebo and demonstrated a 20 percent lower risk for major cardiac events in those taking the drug. It also found a 28 percent reduction in heart attacks among those already taking statins, and a 15 percent decrease in deaths from cardiovascular disease. Those taking the drug showed a 19 percent decrease in mortality from any cause.

GLP-1 medications work by lowering blood sugar, curbing hunger and slowing gastric emptying time, which helps people feel full longer on less food. Many people also report these medications help quiet “food noise.” Collectively, this leads to weight loss, but it can also lead to gastrointestinal side effects such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea or constipation. These side effects can be minimized by careful titration and through nutrition strategies. A registered dietitian nutritionist is an important resource for individuals taking these medications.

GLP-1 medications can be costly. Insurance coverage varies with an individual’s health history and personal plan. As future research continues to identify the health benefits of these medications, it is possible coverage will improve.

GLP-1 drugs are a complement to, not a replacement for, healthy lifestyle choices. Dr. Miedema emphasizes that, just as cardiovascular disease has “multifactorial” causes, its treatment is multi-faceted too. GLP-1 drugs are just one weapon in an arsenal of treatment approaches that include healthy diet and lifestyle. You can read more about heart disease treatment and prevention here.

Dr. Miedema’s On the Pulse (21 minutes long) webinar, Five Myths About Obesity and the New Weight Loss Drugs, is available on YouTube to learn more about GLP-1 medications.

Give the Gift of Hope
4 photos of families smiling

The Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation® (MHIF) strives to create a world without heart and vascular disease. To achieve this bold vision, we are dedicated to improving the cardiovascular health of individuals and communities through innovative research and education.

Thanks to the generosity of donors like you, we can continue this life-saving work. Please make a gift to support the area of greatest need.

Brad Paisley at Heart 360: Concert for Heart Research

purple background
Brad Paisley at Heart 360 Concert

Ready to celebrate with a community that has heart? We are excited to announce Heart 360 Concert for Heart Research on Saturday, November 2 at The Armory with headliner and award-winning country music singer Brad Paisley! Purchase GA tickets via Ticketmaster, or Premium VIP tickets today: