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wegovy

US FDA Approves Weight-Loss Drug Wegovy To Be Marketed For Heart Health Benefits 

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an application from drugmaker Novo Nordisk that allows the weight loss drug Wegovy to add cardiovascular benefits to the medicine’s label, according to CNN

This marks the first weight-loss drug to be marketed to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, or heart-related deaths in people who are at higher risk for cardiovascular issues and/or events. 

The addition to the label may improve some insurance coverage for Wegovy; the “sister drug” to Ozempic. The drug currently costs around $1,300 per month out of pocket, and many insurers don’t cover weight loss drugs. 

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“The evidence is that they reduce risk and save lives – and so it is indefensible to deny people access, or make it difficult for people to access, medications that will directly improve their health,” Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist and scientist at Yale University and Yale New Haven Hospital, said Friday

“The point is that these drugs are not about appearance but about health. By treating obesity, we know we can reduce cardiovascular risk, and that may be only a part of the benefits that accrue.”

The approval occurred after a study involving 17,000 patients. The study, according to reports, showed that the patients who took Wegovy had a 20% lower risk of having a cardiac event than those who took the placebo. 

Wegovy is meant to be used for individuals who are considered to be obese or overweight, meaning they have a body mass index of anything between 27 – 30, as well as have a weight-related health condition such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. 

“Wegovy is now the first weight loss medication to also be approved to help prevent life-threatening cardiovascular events in adults with cardiovascular disease and either obesity or overweight,” Dr. John Sharretts, the FDA’s director of the Division of Diabetes, Lipid Disorders, and Obesity, said in a news release.

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“This patient population has a higher risk of cardiovascular death, heart attack and stroke. Providing a treatment option that is proven to lower this cardiovascular risk is a major advance for public health.”

The trial performed prior to this classification was done with patients with cardiovascular disease. They’ve either previously had a heart attack, stroke, or symptoms of peripheral artery disease: which is when one has clogged arteries in their arms or legs. 

Wegovy, however, has and is in a shortage currently, and drugmakers are struggling to keep up with the demand. Novo Nordisk released a statement last month that stated it would be gradually increasing the supply over this course of this year.

“The shortages are really, really bad right now,” Dr. Jody Dushay, an endocrinologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said Friday. 

“[I hoped] the expanded approval would improve insurance coverage, particularly as generic weight-loss drug alternatives can carry heart risks, but if insurance comes on board with this indication, [I have] no idea how manufacturing will ever catch up,” she said. 

Dushay added, “this might also help prioritize use of [the drugs] among those with highest-risk obesity, those who also have cardiovascular disease.”

pill

A Single-Dose ‘Polypill’ Found To Be A Life Saving Drug

A three-in-one drug combo was recently found and it helps those who have a history of heart attacks find a new way to stay healthy. 

In a recent clinical study led by Dr. Valentin Fuster, director of Mount Sinai in New York City, he studied roughly 2,499 patients across seven European countries. 

These patients have had a history of type 1 myocardial infarction within the last six months or were over the age of 75 or had a minimum age of 65 with at least one high risk faster.

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A handful of the patients were given the polypill that had aspirin, ramipril and atorvastatin while the other received typical care. The groups were followed over the next three years.

Typically after a patient suffers a heart attack, they are prescribed three different drugs. These usually are aspirin, ramipril or another drug for blood pressure and a cholesterol-lowering drug. 

However, usually less than 50% of patients take their prescriptions as they are prescribed by the doctor. 

“Although most patients initially adhere to treatment after an acute event such as an infarction [tissue death], adherence drops off after the first few months. Our goal was to have an impact right from the start, and most of the patients in the study began taking a simple polypill in the first week after having a heart attack” 

“The results were, frankly, very exciting,” said Fuster. 

After the study, the outcome was overwhelmingly positive. The results found that there was 24% reduction in heart disease or other heart problems.

The new drug also helped reveal that it helped cut the high risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 33%. 

“The SECURE study findings suggest that the polypill could become an integral element of strategies to prevent recurrent cardiovascular events in patients who have had a heart attack. By simplifying treatment and improving adherence, this approach has the potential to reduce the risk of recurrent cardiovascular disease and death on a global scale,” said Fuster. 

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According to UPI, the polypill that has been used within the study still hasn’t been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. However, Fuster believes that the positive results from the study could be submitted with an effort to hopefully gain approval.

“Combination pills are easier for the physician and for the patient, and the data is pretty clear – it translates into benefit,” said Dr. Thomas Wang, chair of the department of internal medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center. 

The combination of the drugs, in this all in one pill, seems to help lead to the improvements and the patients well being, people may be more likely to stay on top of their medications to help them improve their health which is a win win.

Running

How Strava Can Motivate You to Work Out

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to commit to a healthier lifestyle, which often includes regular exercise. But though there is strong agreement about the benefits of a physically active lifestyle, it can be difficult to stay motivated, particularly at the start of a new year when it’s cold outside and gyms are crowded. Luckily, there exist a number of smartphone apps that offer a plethora of features designed to motivate you to maintain a regular and consistent workout schedule. One such app, Strava, motivates runners by allowing them to track their activities, check their stats, and compete with others.

Unlike many sports, running is an activity that can easily become dull over time, as the sport is repetitive, simplistic, and can be grueling. However, running is a very effective way to burn calories and maintain cardiovascular fitness, and it requires virtually no equipment save for a pair of running shoes. Running, like most sports, is more exciting when performed alongside others; however, people who are very busy may have difficulty finding a group of people to run with that fits into their schedule. Recently, though, many smartphone apps have been developed that allow people to virtually compete with one another by tracking their pace and mileage via GPS sensors and letting users upload their statistics to the internet and view others’ stats. A large number of apps exist for this purpose, each offering its own unique set of features, but Strava is perhaps the best choice for runners with a competitive mindset.

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Strava, which calls itself the “social network for athletes,” is available on both Android and iOS devices as well as through a web browser at strava.com. Like competing apps MapMyRun and Runkeeper, Strava uses your phone’s GPS to record and track your workouts, giving you information about your performance after you complete your run. What sets Strava apart is its inclusion of extensive social features, which take the form of challenges, wherein users compete to achieve a goal designed by the app’s developers, and virtual running clubs, where people can make friends, compare their stats, and organize to meet up in real life. Although Strava is free, the company offers a paid membership called Summit, which unlocks advanced features like more detailed analysis, additional training tools, and safety tools that allow users to share their location with trusted contacts during a run.

While most runners are unlikely to pay the necessary $6 a month for a premium membership, the base app still offers a plethora of features to motivate and engage runners. One distinct benefit of the sport of running is that it’s easy to track your progress over time, as using a GPS tracker lets you know whether your performance has improved, even if only by a few seconds per mile. This characteristic of running makes it particularly appealing to people who like to work with numbers or fans of role playing video games, which are based on the concept of slowly improving your character’s stats over time through continued play. In this way, running can provide the same feeling of accomplishment associated with improving a fictional character’s stats in a video game, with the main difference being an improvement in overall health rather than an improvement in a virtual character’s abilities. The gamification elements offered by apps like Strava only make the sport more appealing to these type of gamers, as the app provides users with a rewarding feedback loop by showing them their progress over time and encouraging them to push harder when appropriate.

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Recently, Strava released its “Year in Sport” report, which analyzes all of the data collected by the app over the year and arrives at conclusions about the user base as a whole. The report found that the number of runners who completed a marathon or ultra distance run rose this year compared to last year, with Japan seeing a 23.2 percent boost. It also found that the runners who were the most successful at maintaining their habits were the ones who woke up early to run, and that people are increasingly recording sports other than running, including yoga and weight training, through the app. Given the growing popularity of technologies like smartwatches and virtual exercise classes, these numbers are sure to continue to rise.

Red Heart with Stethescope

Research Shows Lifestyle Changes and Medicine as Effective as Surgery for Heart Disease

According to a recent large study, stents and coronary artery bypass surgery are not more effective treatment options than intensive drug treatment and lifestyle changes that incorporate healthy habits, causing a new controversy in the medical field of cardiology. The subject of the best way to treat people with narrow coronary arteries has long been the subject of fierce discussion among doctors and researchers, with most doctors opting to implant stents into clogged arteries in order to treat people who have heart disease. Stents are tubes made out of wire mesh that force arteries open, allowing blood to flow more vigorously through the body. This type of surgery is very common, and it is even performed when patients have no symptoms or only experience pain after exerting themselves.

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The findings of the study were released on Saturday during the American Heart Association’s annual scientific conference, and the study was the largest and one of the most rigorous of its kind ever conducted. Though the study found that surgery is often lifesaving for people who had heart attacks, the procedure may be performed more often than is medically necessary, as less invasive options produce similar positive health outcomes in certain populations. Among these options are the use of drugs that lower cholesterol, which contributes to the buildup of plaque within the arteries, which in turn increases one’s risk of heart attack or stroke. Stents or bypass surgery, however, are more effective than drugs and lifestyle changes for frequent chest pain.

While the findings discourage the use of surgery in patients who are asymptomatic, they may also encourage the procedure in people who have frequent chest pain

The findings are likely to have an impact on the conversations doctors have with their patients about the best course of treatment for a wide range of heart problems. While lifestyle changes, combined with medicine, are the ideal treatment for people with heart disease who experience no or only minor symptoms, these changes can be difficult for patients to make and keep over time. Changing one’s diet, for instance, generally involves a significant shift in the way one thinks about food, and committing to an exercise routine can be especially challenging for people who are busy. Interventional cardiologists perform surgeries like stent procedures, whereas preventative cardiologists prescribe drugs and encourage lifestyle changes; these recent findings are likely to inspire disagreements between these two specializations.

While the findings discourage the use of surgery in patients who are asymptomatic, they may also encourage the procedure in people who have frequent chest pain, as implanting stents was shown to be effective both in reducing chest pain and lowering the risk of a cardiovascular event. The study also highlighted the importance of smoking cessation in reducing one’s risk for heart attacks and strokes, as quitting smoking is perhaps one of the most significant lifestyle changes a person can make to improve their health overall, especially as he or she ages. 

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While implanting stents is an effective treatment option in some cases, it is not totally effective; in the study, patients who had stents implanted suffered heart attacks at a rate of 5.3% whereas the group receiving medical therapy only underwent heart attacks at a rate of 3.4%. However, after four years had passed, the group with invasive procedures fared better than the other group, having heart attacks at a rate of 13.3% as opposed to 15.5%. While these findings need to be studied further, they may be the result of the fact that many people fail to maintain lifestyle changes over the course of several years. For treating chest pain, stents had a clear advantage over the other therapies, as they relieved chest pain in 50% of patients whereas medical and lifestyle therapy relieved chest pain in only 20% of patients. That being said, both options have been shown to be effective treatments for a number of heart problems, and thanks to modern medicine, people suffer from untreated heart issues at a lower rate than in the past.