Cardiac Effects of Obesity Drugs: What You Need | Better You Rx

Cardiac Effects of Obesity Medications: What You Need to Know

Obesity is a significant risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease, and lifestyle changes are often the first line of therapy for weight loss. However, for some people, lifestyle changes alone are insufficient to achieve a healthy weight. Medical options for treating obesity may then include anti-obesity medications. These medications can play a role in achieving a healthy weight, but they may also come with potential cardiovascular risks. This article will discuss the cardiac effects of some of the most commonly prescribed anti-obesity medications.

Saxenda (Liraglutide)

Saxenda (Liraglutide) is a medication that was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December of 2014, as a treatment option for chronic weight management. It is marketed in the United States by Novo Nordisk, Inc. This medication belongs to a larger class of drugs, known biochemically as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists, initially developed for treating type 2 diabetes.

In clinical trials, Saxenda resulted in a small decrease in systolic blood pressure but was also associated with increased heart rate. While studies have shown that Saxenda is associated with few serious cardiac events, experts are still considering the potential cardiovascular risks associated with this medication and looking for further research.

Wegovy (Semaglutide)

Wegovy (semaglutide) is a medication approved by the FDA in June of 2021, for chronic weight management in those with at least one weight-related condition, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol. It is marketed by Novo Nordisk, Inc. Semaglutide is a GLP-1 receptor agonist, similar to Saxenda, that has also been shown to be associated with an increased heart rate at rest.

In addition to its effects on heart rate, Wegovy also causes a delay in gastric emptying. While more research is needed to evaluate the medication’s cardiovascular effects fully, those with a history of arrhythmias may want to consult with their healthcare provider before taking this medication.

Contrave (Naltrexone/Bupropion)

Contrave (naltrexone/bupropion) was approved by the FDA in September of 2014, for the treatment of obesity. It is marketed by Orexigen Therapeutics, Inc., and contains two medications within one pill: naltrexone and bupropion.

Naltrexone, used alone, was initially approved by the FDA for the treatment of opioid addiction and alcohol dependence. Bupropion used alone, has been approved and used for the treatment of depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and smoking cessation.

In the extended-release tablet of Contrave, however, the two medications combine to cause weight loss. While Contrave has been found to have favorable effects on the cholesterol profile, it has been found to increase both blood pressure and heart rate. Those taking this medication should monitor their blood pressure and heart rate and speak with their healthcare provider if they experience any change in these levels.

Qsymia (Phentermine/Topiramate)

Qsymia (Phentermine/Topiramate) was approved by the FDA in 2012 and is marketed by VIVUS. Like Contrave, it also contains two medications within one pill: phentermine and topiramate. The FDA has approved Phentermine alone since 1959 for the short-term treatment of obesity.

Qsymia combines both phentermine and topiramate in a single pill, resulting in a weight loss medication that can have cardiac side effects. One clinical trial found that Qsymia was associated with higher heart rates, a cause for concern for patients with certain cardiac conditions.

What You Should Do If You’re Taking These Medications

If you are taking any of the above medications, working closely with your healthcare provider to monitor your heart health is essential. Regular check-ins can help ensure that you experience no adverse side effects.

In addition to monitoring your heart health, keeping track of your weight loss progress is important. Consult with your healthcare provider if you are not regularly losing weight while taking these medications or if you experience any side effects that concern you.

It is also worth noting that some people buy medications from international sources, such as Canada, for more affordable prices. Every patient deserves access to affordable and effective medication at Better You RX. We work hard to ensure our patients have access to the medications they need at an affordable price.

To put it all together, while anti-obesity medications can play a critical role in helping patients achieve healthy weight loss, they can also come with potential cardiovascular risks. By working closely with your healthcare provider and maintaining regular check-ins, you can help ensure that you experience no adverse side effects. Better You RX is committed to ensuring our patients access affordable and effective medications to help them achieve their health goals.

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