GLP-1 agonists improve heart health in type 2 diabetes, review shows

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The diabetes drug class glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists have positive heart health outcomes without major safety concerns, research shows.

University of Oxford scientists conducted a meta-analysis of the GLP-1 agonists Lyxumia (lixisenatide), Victoza (liraglutide), Ozempic (semaglutide), and Bydureon (extended-release exenatide), to assess their impact on heart health.
The type 2 diabetes drugs are all designed to help lower blood sugar levels by stimulating insulin and suppressing glucagon after meals.
In people with type 2 diabetes, GLP-1 treatment led to a 10% reduced risk for combination of heart attack, stroke or death from heart disease; a 13% per cent reduced risk of death from heart disease specifically; and a 12% reduced risk of death from any cause.
“Our findings show cardiovascular safety across all GLP-1 receptor agonist cardiovascular outcome trials and suggest that drugs in this class can reduce three-point major adverse cardiovascular events, cardiovascular mortality, and all-cause mortality risk, albeit to varying degrees for individual drugs, without significant safety concerns,” said the researchers.
The meta-analysis used data from trials where GLP-1 drugs were compared with placebo in adults with type 2 diabetes. The primary outcomes of the research included effects of cardiovascular mortality, heart attack and non-fatal stroke.
Four trials were identified, and alongside improved heart health benefits, no significant effects were observed on hospital admission for unstable angina or heart failure. Moreover, no significant differences were observed regarding severe hypoglycemia, pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer.
“GLP-1 receptor agonists have a favourable risk-benefit balance overall, which should allow the choice of drug to be individualised to each patient’s needs,” added the researchers.
The results have been published in The Lancet journal.