Semaglutide is a medication used to treat type 2 diabetes. It belongs to a class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. GLP-1 receptor agonists work by increasing the body’s production of insulin, reducing the amount of glucose produced by the liver, and slowing the emptying of the stomach, which helps to control blood sugar levels. Semaglutide is a newer GLP-1 receptor agonist that has several advantages over older drugs in its class.
- Once-Weekly Dosage
One of the most significant advantages of semaglutide is that it is dosed once a week. This is in contrast to other GLP-1 receptor agonists, which are typically dosed once or twice a day. This makes it much more convenient for patients to take their medication as prescribed, which can lead to better adherence and improved blood sugar control.
- Improved A1C Control
Semaglutide has been shown to be very effective at controlling A1C levels, which is a measure of average blood sugar levels over the past two to three months. In clinical trials, semaglutide reduced A1C levels by an average of 1.5 to 1.8 percentage points, which is significantly better than other GLP-1 receptor agonists. This means that patients taking semaglutide are more likely to achieve their blood sugar goals, which can help to prevent complications associated with type 2 diabetes.
- Weight Loss
Another advantage of semaglutide is that it can lead to significant weight loss. In clinical trials, patients taking semaglutide lost an average of 10-15 pounds over a 6-month period. This is likely due to the fact that GLP-1 receptor agonists slow the emptying of the stomach, which can reduce appetite and increase feelings of fullness. Weight loss is particularly important for patients with type 2 diabetes, as excess weight can worsen insulin resistance and lead to other health problems.
- Cardiovascular Benefits
In addition to its blood sugar and weight loss benefits, semaglutide has been shown to have cardiovascular benefits. In a large clinical trial called SUSTAIN-6, semaglutide was associated with a 26% reduction in major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE), including heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular death. This is particularly important for patients with type 2 diabetes, who are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Fewer Side Effects
Semaglutide has been shown to have fewer side effects than other GLP-1 receptor agonists. The most common side effects of semaglutide are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, but these are typically mild and transient. In contrast, older GLP-1 receptor agonists have been associated with more severe side effects, including pancreatitis and thyroid cancer. While the risk of these side effects is still low, semaglutide appears to be a safer option for patients with type 2 diabetes.
- Lower Risk of Hypoglycemia
Finally, semaglutide has a lower risk of hypoglycemia than other diabetes medications. Hypoglycemia occurs when blood sugar levels drop too low, which can lead to dizziness, confusion, and even loss of consciousness. GLP-1 receptor agonists like semaglutide do not cause hypoglycemia on their own, although they can increase the risk of hypoglycemia when combined with insulin or other diabetes medications. By reducing the risk of hypoglycemia, semaglutide can help patients with type 2 diabetes avoid dangerous complications.