Millions of Britons should be prescribed weight-loss jabs to slash their chances of heart attack and stroke, cardiologists said yesterday.

The biggest study yet on Ozempic and Wegovy found their key ingredient was a ‘game-changer’ for heart patients, including those who did not lose weight.

It found the weekly shot cut by a fifth their risk of further heart attacks or death. Britain’s top cardiologist said it was the most significant development in heart disease since statins in the 1990s and would ‘change clinical practice’.

John Deanfield of University College London said the study proved semaglutide was more than an obesity drug because it ‘targets the underlying biology of chronic diseases’.

The findings suggest it could be used to treat everything from cancer to kidney disease.

Millions of people should be routinely prescribedN Ozempic weight loss jabs to slash their chances of heart attack and stroke. Pictured: A person uses a Semaglutide pen to deliver an Ozempic injection

Millions of people should be routinely prescribedN Ozempic weight loss jabs to slash their chances of heart attack and stroke. Pictured: A person uses a Semaglutide pen to deliver an Ozempic injection

Millions of people should be routinely prescribedN Ozempic weight loss jabs to slash their chances of heart attack and stroke. Pictured: A person uses a Semaglutide pen to deliver an Ozempic injection

The biggest study yet on Ozempic and Wegovy found their key ingredient was a 'game-changer' for heart patients, including those who did not lose weight

The biggest study yet on Ozempic and Wegovy found their key ingredient was a 'game-changer' for heart patients, including those who did not lose weight

The biggest study yet on Ozempic and Wegovy found their key ingredient was a ‘game-changer’ for heart patients, including those who did not lose weight 

Wegovy and Ozempic work by triggering the body to produce a hormone called GLP-1 that is released naturally from the intestines after meals

Wegovy and Ozempic work by triggering the body to produce a hormone called GLP-1 that is released naturally from the intestines after meals

Wegovy and Ozempic work by triggering the body to produce a hormone called GLP-1 that is released naturally from the intestines after meals

Professor Deanfield told the European Congress on Obesity in Venice: ‘In the 90s when statins came in, we finally figured out that there was a class of drugs that would change the biology of this disease. 

‘That was a major breakthrough to transform cardiology practice. 

‘We now have a class of drugs that could equally transform many chronic diseases of ageing.

‘We’re starting to see with this class of drugs that cardiovascular diseases – maybe other diseases we’re going to hear about in the next few months – get better with this drug. There will be a lot of people who will benefit.’

The discovery is set to transform how the NHS treats heart disease with the new class of drugs – known as GLP-1 agonists – likely to be prescribed by the end of the decade.

Experts said they could be dished out to patients in the same way statins or blood pressure pills are given now.

Around eight million Britons have heart disease, which the British Heart Foundation estimates costs the economy £25billion a year.

The landmark SELECT trial involved 17,604 adults diagnosed with heart problems who were overweight or obese from 41 countries, who took semaglutide medication over three years.

Given once weekly at the same dose as Wegovy, the jab was found to have the same heart health benefits to patients, regardless of their weight.

The proportion of Brits overweight or obese has slowly grown over time, rising to two thirds as of 2021, the latest data available. No data was recorded for 2020 the year of the Covid pandemic

The proportion of Brits overweight or obese has slowly grown over time, rising to two thirds as of 2021, the latest data available. No data was recorded for 2020 the year of the Covid pandemic

The proportion of Brits overweight or obese has slowly grown over time, rising to two thirds as of 2021, the latest data available. No data was recorded for 2020 the year of the Covid pandemic 

This chart shows the mortality rate for cardiovascular disease in the under 75s in England (blue bars) which is the number of deaths per 100,000 people as well as sheer number of deaths (red line). Medical breakthroughs and advanced screening techniques helped lower these figures from 2004, but progress began to stall in the early 2010s before reversing in the last few years of data

This chart shows the mortality rate for cardiovascular disease in the under 75s in England (blue bars) which is the number of deaths per 100,000 people as well as sheer number of deaths (red line). Medical breakthroughs and advanced screening techniques helped lower these figures from 2004, but progress began to stall in the early 2010s before reversing in the last few years of data

This chart shows the mortality rate for cardiovascular disease in the under 75s in England (blue bars) which is the number of deaths per 100,000 people as well as sheer number of deaths (red line). Medical breakthroughs and advanced screening techniques helped lower these figures from 2004, but progress began to stall in the early 2010s before reversing in the last few years of data 

The group who took it, rather than a placebo, had a 20 per cent lower risk of heart attack, stroke or death from heart disease, and typically lost around 10 per cent of their body weight.

This effect was seen regardless of weight loss, suggesting the drugs target an underlying biological mechanism such as inflammation, which is linked to chronic diseases including cancer.

Doctors believe this could be due to mechanisms such as improvements to blood sugar, blood pressure or inflammation, as well as direct effects on the heart muscle and blood vessels.

Professor Deanfield, who is the Government’s champion for personalised prevention, said he would be recommending it to ministers, adding that its use would have to be approved by regulators.

About half of his heart disease patients have a body mass index above 27, putting them in the overweight category, and would benefit from semaglutide, he said.

Semaglutide could be prescribed as an additional treatment for heart problems alongside statins and blood pressure medication, with almost all of those in the trial already taking statins.

The professor added: ‘There’s much less resistance, I would argue, to these drugs than there is to still taking statins. This is a real change in the way we help with a range of diseases, chronic diseases, which currently the NHS doesn’t treat very well.

‘This fantastic trial really is a game-changer.’

Three Semaglutide pens containing Ozempic, which was initially used to treat type 2 diabetes before later being repurposed as the weight loss drug

Three Semaglutide pens containing Ozempic, which was initially used to treat type 2 diabetes before later being repurposed as the weight loss drug

Three Semaglutide pens containing Ozempic, which was initially used to treat type 2 diabetes before later being repurposed as the weight loss drug

A social media user posts the results of her drastic weight loss. Mani Ragbir, president of BAPRAS says: 'Excess skin is not simply a nuisance, it can result in severe and even life-threatening infections'

A social media user posts the results of her drastic weight loss. Mani Ragbir, president of BAPRAS says: 'Excess skin is not simply a nuisance, it can result in severe and even life-threatening infections'

A social media user posts the results of her drastic weight loss. Mani Ragbir, president of BAPRAS says: ‘Excess skin is not simply a nuisance, it can result in severe and even life-threatening infections’

Manufactured by Novo Nordisk, semaglutide is the first in a new generation of anti-obesity drugs which work to suppress appetite by mimicking the hormone GLP-1.

Known as Ozempic, it was initially used to treat type 2 diabetes before being repurposed as the weight loss drug, Wegovy, which is given at a higher dose.

Leading scientists believe the benefits of the drug extend beyond weight loss, with trials ongoing into illnesses including Parkinson’s and kidney disease.

Heart disease is one of the UK’s biggest killers, causing 68,000 deaths and more than 250,000 hospital admissions each year.

Professor Jason Halford, president of the European Association for the Study of Obesity, says the new research highlights how GLP-1 drugs will transform medical treatment over the next decade.

He added: ‘In the next ten years we’ll see a radical change in the approach to healthcare.’

‘Once the costs come down then the cost savings to the NHS will be significant.

‘There are already people in the Treasury thinking about the savings to the economy because of the opportunity to boost productivity. You need to get your workforce as fit as possible.’

Rates are particularly higher in older demographics, with as few as 27 per cent of 45-54-year old's in England at a healthy weight

Rates are particularly higher in older demographics, with as few as 27 per cent of 45-54-year old's in England at a healthy weight

Rates are particularly higher in older demographics, with as few as 27 per cent of 45-54-year old’s in England at a healthy weight

While the nation as a whole is too fat, rates are higher in certain groups with Brits living in more deprived areas, lower qualification, of Black ethnicity or disabled more likely to be struggling with their weight

While the nation as a whole is too fat, rates are higher in certain groups with Brits living in more deprived areas, lower qualification, of Black ethnicity or disabled more likely to be struggling with their weight

While the nation as a whole is too fat, rates are higher in certain groups with Brits living in more deprived areas, lower qualification, of Black ethnicity or disabled more likely to be struggling with their weight

Alarming data published revealed that premature deaths from cardiovascular problems, such as heart attacks and strokes, have hit their highest level in more than a decade. But the burden is not being felt equally across the UK.

MailOnline revealed in January this year that heart death rates among under-75s are up to three times higher in cities like Glasgow, Manchester and Blackpool than in Rutland.

Early heart deaths had tumbled since the 60s thanks to plummeting smoking rates, advanced surgical techniques and breakthroughs such as stents and statins.

But six decades of progress have been reversed by the toll of obesity, diabetes and undiagnosed high blood pressure.

Long waits for tests and treatment are also fuelling the problem, as are the knock-on effects of the Covid pandemic and recent industrial action by medics.

British Heart Foundation analysis showed Glasgow City saw the highest death rate from cardiovascular disease between 2018 and 2020.

Some 136.4 people out of every 100,000 died from such ailments, nearly double the UK average.

At the other end of the scale, Rutland in the East Midlands had the fewest deaths per 100,000 people (36.8).

More than 42million adults in the UK will be overweight or obese by 2040, according to projections by Cancer Research UK

More than 42million adults in the UK will be overweight or obese by 2040, according to projections by Cancer Research UK

More than 42million adults in the UK will be overweight or obese by 2040, according to projections by Cancer Research UK

HOW TO CALCULATE YOUR BODY MASS INDEX – AND WHAT IT MEANS 

Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on your weight in relation to your height. 

Standard Formula:

  • BMI = (weight in pounds / (height in inches x height in inches)) x 703

Metric Formula:

  • BMI = (weight in kilograms / (height in meters x height in meters))

Measurements:

  • Under 18.5: Underweight
  • 18.5 – 24.9: Healthy
  • 25 – 29.9: Overweight
  • 30 – 39.9: Obese 
  • 40+: Morbidly obese
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Meanwhile, top plastic surgeons are reporting a surge in patients seeking nip-and-tucks after rapidly losing weight on Ozempic – and they warn that without these operations many would be left disfigured or even disabled. 

Increasing numbers of Ozempic users on social media complain of being left with gaunt facial features, sagging ‘melted candle’ skin, ’empty’ breasts and hair loss – which are not thought to be a direct side effect of the medication but a consequence of dramatic slimming.

While in some cases these complications are cosmetic, experts speaking to The Mail on Sunday warn that they can often have a profound impact on health. 

People left with large folds of excess skin can have difficulties with basic hygiene, leading to fungal infections, sores and immobility. 

Due to unhappiness about their bodies, shame and embarrassment, they are also at increased risk of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

As the numbers on weight-loss jabs spiral – with the Government suggesting 35,000 Britons are currently eligible for treatment on the NHS – the cost of tackling these knock-on effects could run into more than £100 million per year, according to analysis shared exclusively with this newspaper.

Facial surgeons say that they’re now fielding calls from post-Ozempic patients who are devastated their faces are left looking older.

Celebrities have been seen looking visibly gaunt after using the slimming jabs, including former X-Factor judge Sharon Osbourne. In a recent interview she admitted that she was unhappy with her appearance and wanted to gain weight again but was unable to.

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Sharon Osbourne’s Ozempic journey has left her finding it difficult to put weight back on. Right: Before treatment

Stephen Fry's slimmed down frame, after taking Ozempic. He criticised the drug, however, saying it made him 'violently sick' up to five times a fay
Stephen Fry before taking the Ozempic weight-loss jab to slim down
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British actor and television presenter Stephen Fry has also slimmed down as a result of using a weight-loss injection. However he slammed the drug, saying it made him ‘violently sick’

Australian actress Rebel Wilson has admitted Ozempic played a part in her dramatic weight loss in recent years
Australian actress Rebel Wilson before she dramatically slimmed down, aided by weight-loss injections
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Australian actress Rebel Wilson has admitted that Ozempic played a part in her dramatic weight loss in recent years

Jaime French, 33, started taking Ozempic in November 2022 to lose weight and prevent diabetes. However, it led to 'agonising' pain and diarrhoea

Jaime French, 33, started taking Ozempic in November 2022 to lose weight and prevent diabetes. However, it led to 'agonising' pain and diarrhoea

Jaime French, 33, started taking Ozempic in November 2022 to lose weight and prevent diabetes. However, it led to ‘agonising’ pain and diarrhoea 

Similarly, Jaime French, a 33-year-old internet personality, last month revealed that she suffered a diarrhoea ‘storm’ and ‘absolute agony’ while taking Ozempic. And the worst part about it? She didn’t lose any weight.

Recent reports have suggested that Ozempic has been linked to a slew of digestive issues. This is because the drug mimics the hormone GLP-1, which causes food to stay in the stomach longer and signal to the body that it’s full. 

In many cases, this has been linked to gastroparesis, or stomach paralysis.

Additionally, Ozempic can change the way the body absorbs certain nutrients, which experts say leads to diarrhoea. 

Source: Mail Online

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