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Could semaglutide protect people with type 2 diabetes?

Tuesday June 15th 2021

A major new study will assess if a daily dose of semaglutide could help to prevent people with type 2 diabetes developing cardiovascular disease, it has been announced.

Led by the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford, the ASCEND PLUS study is the latest in the ASCEND (A Study of Cardiovascular Events iN Diabetes) series of clinical trials.

People with diabetes are especially vulnerable to developing cardiovascular disease but, to date, most studies have focused on preventing a recurrence of cardiovascular events in those who already have type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease or are at high risk of developing it because of other conditions.

The study’s co-lead investigator Dr Marion Mafham, said: “Previous trials suggest that semaglutide, and similar drugs, reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular events in people with type 2 diabetes. However, these trials studied people who already had cardiovascular disease or were at high risk of developing it.

“The exact mechanism for these protective effects is not fully understood, but semaglutide has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce weight and lead to improved control of blood sugar.

“This means that taking semaglutide could also bring various long-term benefits, particularly in reducing complications caused by obesity, other health problems such as liver and kidney disease, and potentially dementia. However, we need to test the treatment in a large-scale study to find out whether it will help a wide range of people with type 2 diabetes.”

Participants will receive oral semaglutide or a placebo by post and the team will collect information on side effects remotely every six months, using online questionnaires, telephone surveys and video chats. This will enable people to participate from across the UK who are unable to travel.

Participants will be asked to take the treatment with oral semaglutide or placebo for about five years.

Dr Elizabeth Robertson, director of research at Diabetes UK, said: “Cardiovascular disease is a serious complication of diabetes, and with over 590 heart attacks and over 770 strokes related to diabetes each week in the UK, it’s crucial we find new ways to help people reduce their risk of these complications.

“Lifestyle changes such as eating healthily, stopping smoking, and keeping active can help people with type 2 diabetes to reduce their risk of complications, but these can be difficult to achieve and what works for some people may not work for others.

“We hope this large-scale trial will uncover whether taking semaglutide could help reduce the risk of heart complications in a wide range of people living with type 2 diabetes, helping more people to live well with the condition.”

Tags: Diabetes | Heart Health | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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