Semaglutide Health Benefits Beyond Weight Loss

Semaglutide Health Benefits

Semaglutide health benefits are still being studied. However, it has been shown to significantly improve cardiovascular, renal, and liver-related health problems, especially in overweight and obese individuals.

The FDA has already approved Wegovy for lowering cardiovascular risk factors in obese individuals.

A new study published in Nature Medicine explored the effects of semaglutide on kidney function in adults with overweight or obesity who had a CVD history.

GLP-1 RAs have shown their usefulness in treating or managing conditions beyond just type-2 diabetes and this new knowledge is another proof of the potential that semaglutide holds.

Semaglutide for Kidney Disease:

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) has multiple risk factors and obesity is one of them. The impact of GLP-1 RAs in protecting and maintaining kidney function in diabetics was obvious but it was not known if this impact extended to people without diabetes.

The SELECT trial, which has already shown a 20% decrease in major heart problems with semaglutide compared to a placebo, gave a chance to look into this question.

  • Methodology:

So using the planned analysis of the SELECT trial, over 17,000 subjects were included. They had a BMI of at least 27 kg/m² and an existing heart disease but no diabetes.

For 3.5 years, the participants were given either weekly injections of semaglutide 2.4 mg or a placebo.

The researchers evaluated kidney health by monitoring any changes in kidney function (measured by eGFR), mortality associated with kidney abnormalities, or high protein levels in urine.

All parameters were individually assessed as well as the rate at which kidney injury happened.

  • Results:

Their results were completely in favor of semaglutide. They found that this GLP-1 RA was linked to a 22% decrease in the main kidney problems as compared to the placebo.

This positive result was mainly due to fewer cases of high protein in the urine and a slower drop in kidney function, especially in those with lower starting kidney function (eGFR below 60 mL/min/1.73m²).

Most importantly, the researchers observed no increase in the risk of sudden kidney injury.

  • Implications:

Based on the above results, it is suggested that semaglutide will protect kidney function in people who are overweight, obese, and already developed CVD in the absence of T2DM.

Since a large population of cardiac patients are vulnerable to kidney dysfunction, semaglutide can find significant implications in this case.

Still, we need future research to back these results in a larger and more diverse sample size. Also, the long-term durability of these benefits must be assessed.


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Does Semaglutide Affect Cardiovascular Risk?

The SELECT trial has been incredible in showing the potential of semaglutide and its impact on cardiovascular health.

This large study looked at kidney outcomes and helped get the drug recently approved by the FDA for lowering heart disease risk.

Here’s a deeper dive into the evidence:

  • SELECT trial results:

On August 8, 2023, Novo Nordisk announced the findings of the double-blind trial that compared a once-weekly 2.4 mg injection of semaglutide with a placebo, in addition to standard care, to prevent major cardiovascular events (MACEs) over up to five years.

It included 17,604 adults aged 45 or older who were overweight or obese and had established cardiovascular disease (CVD) but no history of diabetes.

Those who took semaglutide saw a significant 20% drop in major heart-related events (MACE) compared to those who took a placebo.

  • How Semaglutide Reduces Cardiovascular Risks?

The mode of action through which it provides heart benefits is still being investigated. Still, better blood sugar control, weight loss, improved blood pressure, and cholesterol levels could be possible reasons.

  • Semaglutide FDA approval for Heart Diseases:

Considering the strong results derived from the SELECT trial, the FDA has approved semaglutide for adults with heart conditions and weight problems like obesity.

This approval is another proof of this GLP-1 RA’s effectiveness in reducing the risk of serious heart issues.


Semaglutide for Liver Disease?

The effect of semaglutide on liver health appears to be positive. Here’s what current research suggests:

  • Improved Liver Function:

Studies have shown that semaglutide can improve liver function in people with obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) [ref].

This improvement is because of lowering or high liver enzymes that can indicate liver damage.

  • Reduced Liver Fat:

This drug has been linked to a reduction in liver fat content in people with NAFLD. When this fat accumulation is reduced a healthy liver state is achieved.

  • Potential for NASH Improvement:

There is a more severe form of NAFLD called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and based on early research semaglutide can improve this condition. It can slow the progression of NASH while reducing inflammation.

Important Considerations:

  • Long-Term Effects:

While initial findings are promising, more long-term research is needed to fully understand semaglutide’s impact on liver health.

  • Underlying Conditions:

It’s crucial to consult with a doctor before taking semaglutide, especially if you have pre-existing liver problems.


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Semaglutide Health Benefits Beyond Diabetes:

Scientists are studying the health benefits of semaglutide. Besides its known uses for diabetes, heart, kidney, and liver diseases, they are also looking into how it might help prevent cancer and other serious health issues.

This research is very promising and could lead to new ways to use semaglutide.

Area of Exploration

Potential Application

Current Stage

Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)Treating and managing NASH, possibly slowing the disease’s progression.Early research shows promise in reducing inflammation and improving liver function
Neurodegenerative DiseasesLooking into potential benefits for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, since GLP-1 receptors are in the brain.Pre-clinical studies underway
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)Exploring its role in hormone regulation and improving fertility outcomes.Early clinical trials are ongoing
Cognitive FunctionInvestigating how it might enhance cognitive function and memory.Limited research and further investigation are needed.
Cancer PreventionStudying its potential anti-tumor effects and impact on cancer risk.Early pre-clinical studies.

What do you think?

Written by Dr. Ahmed

I am Dr. Ahmed (MBBS; FCPS Medicine), an Internist and a practicing physician. I am in the medical field for over fifteen years working in one of the busiest hospitals and writing medical posts for over 5 years.

I love my family, my profession, my blog, nature, hiking, and simple life. Read more about me, my family, and my qualifications

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