Semaglutide could be beneficial in helping to treat patients with type 2 diabetes and obesity-related heart failure, a study has shown.

In a trial of more than 600 patients with obesity-related heart failure with preserved ejection fraction and type 2 diabetes, semaglutide led to several benefits after one year.

This included larger reductions in heart failure-related symptoms and improvement in physical limitations, researchers reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

It follows previous research suggesting benefit of the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist in obesity-related heart failure in people without type 2 diabetes, the researchers said.

But it was not clear if the same would be true of those who also had type 2 diabetes for several reasons including that they tend to present with more advanced disease and are already likely to be receiving treatment with an SGLT2 inhibitor for their heart disease.

After 12 months, the researchers reported that a once-weekly 2.4mg dose of semaglutide not only led to a larger reduction in heart failure symptoms in this group but also increased the six-minute walk distance.

It was also associated with fewer serious adverse events than placebo, the researchers noted.

But the trial was not designed to evaluate the number of hospitalisations or urgent doctor visits for heart failure symptoms, they added.

Those taking semaglutide lost more weight compared with placebo but the weight reduction was 40% lower than reported in people with heart failure but not diabetes in a previous study.

Writing in the NEJM, the researchers concluded that the findings suggested ‘the mechanisms of benefit with semaglutide may extend beyond weight loss’.

This may be due to the effects of the drug on the heart and blood vessels, inflammation, insulin resistance and other factors, they said.

The consistency between the findings of this and the previous trial in patients without type 2 diabetes ‘provides greater reassurance that semaglutide is an efficacious treatment option with a favourable safety profile in a broad population of patients with obesity-related heart failure,’ they said.

Professor Naveed Sattar, professor of cardiometabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow, said: ‘This new well conducted trial suggests once again we have underestimated the impact of excess weight in the development of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.

‘Preventing obesity remains critically important but newer treatments that help people living with obesity lose decent amounts of weight could help improve the lives of many living with heart failure, and many other conditions associated with obesity.

‘Robust randomised trials are needed to also ensure these drugs are not only beneficial but also safe and the evidence here is also mounting and reassuring.’

This article first appeared on our sister article Pulse.