By Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Bhanvi Satija

Copenhagen: Novo Nordisk‘s popular obesity drug Wegovy helped women with a common heart disease lose more weight than men who had the same condition, an analysis of study data published in a medical journal has shown.

The trials included 1,145 patients and were focused on a condition known as heart failure with preserved ejection fraction, or HFpEF, in which the muscles of the heart stiffen and draw in less blood.

The data from the two trials, which tested the drug in people with obesity-related heart failure along with HFpEF – both with and without diabetes – was presented at the American Diabetes Association’s scientific meeting in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday.

The drug produced similar improvements in HFpEF symptoms, physical limitations and exercise function regardless of sex, the data showed.

The prespecified analysis was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“We’re seeing a benefit across males and females,” said Stephen Gough, Novo’s chief medical officer, in an interview. He added that trial data supported Wegovy’s potential to deliver clinical improvements in patients with heart failure.

Novo’s trials were not designed to evaluate the treatment effects of Wegovy, chemically known as semaglutide, by biological sex.

About half of the patients enrolled in the trials were females. They had a higher body mass index and worse symptoms of heart failure, the analysis showed. Females were also less likely to have abnormal heart rhythm or coronary artery disease, compared to males.

The data showed that a 2.4 milligram dose of semaglutide in patients with obesity-related HFpEF reduced body weight to a greater extent in females. Females lost an average of 9.6% of their weight, while males lost about 7.2% of body weight.

Heart failure benefits were found to be similar in males and females, with both groups improving by an average of roughly 7.5 points on a 0-to-100-point scoring system.

Other studies have also shown a greater weight-loss response in women than in men with semaglutide, for reasons that aren’t clear yet, according to the analysis.

The “key surprising finding” from the analysis was that greater weight loss among females did not lead to similarly greater improvements in heart failure symptoms, according to an editorial published with the study.

More research was needed to identify the reasons for that discrepancy, the researchers said.

Fewer serious adverse events were reported in patients who received semaglutide, compared to those on a placebo, data showed.

HFpEF accounts for about half of heart failure cases, with symptoms including shortness of breath and swelling in the extremities. The condition mostly affects overweight people and is especially common among women, prior studies have shown. (Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen in Copenhagen and Bhanvi Satija in Bangalore; Editing by Caroline Humer and Pooja Desai)

  • Published On Jun 24, 2024 at 06:15 AM IST

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