An anti-obesity drug could have additional health benefits including reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes a new study has revealed.

A five-year study was carried out by a team led by Professor John Deanfield, from University College London (UCL), based on a trial - comprised of 17,604 adults over the age of 45 from 41 countries - from semaglutide manufacturer Novo Nordisk.

The study explored the anti-obesity drug sold under brand names Wegovy, Ozempic and Rybelsus and if it could reduce the risk of heart attacks or stroke in obese people without diabetes.

Ozempic is a drug typically used to treat diabetes but recently gained a reputation among TikTok influencers and celebrities for helping them lose weight in short time frames.

@uktoday_ What is the Ozempic and why is it being used as a weight loss drug? #uknews #ozempicweightloss #diabetes #uknewsheadlines ♬ original sound - UKToday 🇬🇧 Newsquest

It contains semalgitude, which lowers blood sugar levels and regulates insulin, crucial for people with Type 2 diabetes.

However, it also mimics a hormone which limits are appetite by signalling to our bodies that we feel full.

As a result, people with obesity have lost weight while taking it, and it has even been used in a weight loss drug approved for use by the NHS in England.

Additional health benefits of anti-obesity drug Ozempic

Now, on top of helping with weight loss and diabetes, the drug is said to help reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and heart failure.

Prof Deanfield’s analysis of the trial examined the amount of time before patients suffered major cardiovascular events – such as heart attack or stroke – or whether they developed heart failure.

The research found semaglutide found in the drug reduced the risk of a heart attack and/or stroke in obese people with cardiovascular disease by a fifth.

A 2.4mg once-weekly dose of Wegovy, alongside standard care for the prevention of heart attacks or stroke, lowered the risk by 20% compared with those given a placebo.

The study aslo showed that after 20 weeks of being on semaglutide, 62% of patients had lost more than 5% of their bodyweight compared with 10% in the placebo group.

The Mail: Ozempic, a drug typically used to treat diabetes, has gained a reputation among TikTok influencers and celebrities for helping them lose weight in short time frames.Ozempic, a drug typically used to treat diabetes, has gained a reputation among TikTok influencers and celebrities for helping them lose weight in short time frames. (Image: PA)

But the risk reduction of heart attacks, stroke or heart failure was similar in all patients regardless of how much weight they lost, or even if they gained weight.

Prof Deanfield said the findings “have important clinical implications”.

“Around half of the patients that I see in my cardiovascular practice have levels of weight equivalent to those in the Select trial and are likely to derive benefit from taking semaglutide on top of their usual level of guideline-directed care,” he added.

“Our findings show that the magnitude of this treatment effect with semaglutide is independent of the amount of weight lost, suggesting that the drug has other actions which lower cardiovascular risk beyond reducing unhealthy body fat.

“These alternative mechanisms may include positive impacts on blood sugar, blood pressure or inflammation, as well as direct effects on the heart muscle and blood vessels, or a combination of one or more of these.”

Dr Amir Khan says additional health benefits of anti-obesity drug is "positive news"

Dr Amir Khan appeared on Good Morning Britain (GMB) on Tuesday (May 14) speaking to Susanna Reid and Ed Balls about the findings from the study.

He said it was "positive news in our fight against cardiovascular disease".

Dr Khan said: "Those that were given the drug had a 20% recued risk of a heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular disease, that's regardless of how much weight they lost.

"That goes to show that this drug does more than just cause weight loss and manage blood sugars sugar, it could reduce inflammation, it could reduce blood pressure - those are the mechanisms of action by which we think it reduces those diseases we've listed there."

But he added that things like the anti-obesity jabs weren't the only way to deal with health problems.

Dr Khan said: "But what I will say Ed, and this is what I say to all my patients, if we do want to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, or any disease in all of us really, we should all be doing things like better nutrition focused on core foods; good, enjoyable, regular movement; good quality sleep; time in nature; and of course stopping smoking and reducing our alcohol intake, that is better than any drug I think."


Since it was revealed Ozempic helped with weight loss the drug has been a lot harder for people to get a hold of, Dr Khan said. 

"What I will say, and this is really important, since it's been licenced for weight loss it's been really really difficult for people with type two diabetes to get a hold of it," he said.

"A lot of my patients struggle to get hold of it and that has resulted in poorer blood sugar control for them, so we need to focus on the people who need it most."