The popular weight loss drug, liraglutide, prevents cardiovascular disease by reducing certain types of fat that are known to cause heart problems, recent research shows.
Academics at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found that liraglutide can destroy visceral and ectopic fat and protect obese individuals from cardiac complications.
An active lifestyle is also known to prevent the progression of cardiovascular disease.
Visceral fat is stored in the abdominal cavity and surrounds vital organs such as the intestines, liver and pancreas.
While ectopic fat is held in tissues that normally contain tiny amounts of fat, such as skeletal muscles, pancreas, heart, and liver.
The top researcher Dr. Parag Joshi said, “Our study used the latest imaging technology to assess different components of fat in the body.
“The main finding was a significant decrease in visceral fat in patients without diabetes who were overweight or obese.
“These results demonstrate the potential of liraglutide treatment to significantly reduce the risk of chronic disease in this population.”
The scientists injected 185 people with liraglutide daily for 40 weeks to assess how effective the drug is in reducing fat.
After the experiment, the greatest results were found in the liver, closely followed by the abdominal tissues.
In addition, liraglutide also lowered fasting blood sugar levels and inflammation in participants without diabetes.
According to the researchers, positive results were measured in all races, ethnicities, BMI groups, and in people with prediabetes.
Previous research by the same scientists concluded that people with type 2 diabetes who were prescribed liraglutide were less likely to die than those who were given a placebo.
Dr. Joshi said, “Our results help add a possible mechanism for why liraglutide has an advantage on cardiovascular outcomes while demonstrating its benefits in people without diabetes.”
One in four adults and one in five children are obese, which increases the overall risk of heart disease and death.
“Excess visceral fat and ectopic fat (e.g. liver) are central to the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Joshi.
The full results are now available in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.