With an increase in type 2 diabetes every year in the United States, new medications continue to be released. One, in particular, is getting a lot of attention.
Ozempic is one of the newest medications in the fight against type 2 diabetes. It can improve blood sugar levels, promote weight loss, and some cardiovascular cases.
But what are they, and how do they work?
What is Ozempic?
Ozempics is a once-a-week prescription medication to help those with type 2 diabetes. Ozempic is a (glucagon-like peptide) GLP-1 receptor agitator. Ozempics are becoming increasingly popular due to their effectiveness, the (potentially) positive side effect of weight loss, and doesn’t come with the risk of low blood sugar like insulin. Ozempic is known for lowering A1C (blood sugar levels).
With the once-a-week dosage, patients start off with a .25 mg dosage. If that is ineffective, it will continue to increase to a .50mg dosage. Increasing up to 2mg. Usually, results will start to occur one week after the first dose, but the manufacturer notes that
results won’t be steady until 4-5 weeks. Results do vary from person to person, and there are many variables such as age, weight, sex, etc.
Ozempic has also reduced the risk of a major cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke. This improvement in
cardiovascular health is only seen in patients who have been taking Ozempic on a long-term base.
How does it work?
When it comes to all that Ozempic does, it boils down to 3 main things.
The first thing that it does is that it stimulates insulin secretion. It does this by binding with the GLP-1 receptors and stimulating insulin secretion in the pancreas when needed. This process is why it is prescribed to many patients with Type-2 diabetes.
The second thing it does for you is lower glucagon secretion in a glucose-dependent manner. This means that it reduces the amount of sugar released into your body by your liver.
The final process that Ozempic does is to slow down food leaving your stomach, preventing blood sugar spikes. This process causes a loss in appetite, one of the side effects patients experience causing weight loss.
This leads Ozempic to significantly decrease the chance of a major cardiovascular event in those with type-2 diabetes. Major cardiovascular events include but aren’t limited to heart attack, stroke, or death in someone with known heart disease. Ozempic is not used for type one diabetes or diabetic ketoacidosis. Ozempic may be prescribed with other type two diabetes medications such as insulin or metformin.
How Ozempics affect my blood sugar
Ozempic conducted a study that compared the effectiveness of Ozempic to a placebo (an inactive agent) and other types two diabetes, such as metformin. The effectiveness of Ozempic was compared to other medications like Insulin.
Ozempic with doses of 0.5mg to 1.0mg injected weekly notably reduced the A1C (blood sugar levels) over a 30-week to 56 week timeframe. It should be noted that reducing blood sugar levels can take up to 7 weeks to 8 weeks to change, depending on where your baseline started when you started taking Ozempic.
In another study Ozempic, compared to other type 2 diabetes medications like sitagliptin, Ozempic lowered blood sugar levels from 8% down to 7% in an 8-week time frame. Blood sugar levels were then at 6.5% by week 16 of the study.
The bottom line is that your blood sugar levels should start to decrease after a week of taking Ozempic. It should be noted that the medication is known to take up to 8 weeks or longer, considering this is a long-acting medication that should only
be injected once per week.
When starting Ozempic, you will start with a low dose as this will help reduce the side effect, but on a long-term base, this will not help reduce blood sugar effectively long term.
Ozempics and Uses
Ozempic has been an effective alternative compared to insulin. The problem with using Insulin is that it comes with a risk of a drop in blood sugar. In a 2021 blind study, research showed that patients that started at a baseline of 8.9% of A1C were given a dose of either 1 milligram or 2 milligrams for 40 weeks. After 40 weeks, results were taken in the 2-milligram category patients started with an 8.9% A1C and were now down to 2.2% compared to the 1 milligram, down 1.9%. This makes the risk of high blood sugar significantly lower in a high dose of Ozempic.
When blood sugar levels are high but not high enough to be considered diabetes, this is called pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes may turn into diabetes if left untreated. In theory, the results from previous studies indicate that Ozempic could help decrease the chances of advancing from prediabetes to diabetes.
Weight loss can also help insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels. Ozempic isn’t used to treat pre-diabetes or for weight loss, which is why there could be obstacles in getting it covered by insurance.
It is to be noted that Ozempic is not prescribed as a weight loss drug but has been known to help you lose a few pounds. This is
because Ozempic slows down gastric emptying in your stomach. This causes patients to lose their appetite more frequently after eating. A study shows that 1,900 non-diabetic patients were put in a placebo-controlled test. With a dose of 2.3 milligrams of Ozempic, the group that took Ozempic showed a decrease in their weight of close to 15%, while the Placebo group only lost 2.4%. While it is not specifically prescribed for weight loss, some people have been prescribed Ozempic as an off-label solution.
Ozempic has been proven to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke. Ozempic causes improvements in blood sugar levels and blood pressure levels and can help in weight loss. This is most likely the cause of certain cardiovascular benefits.
Side effects and Ozempic warnings
While side effects are not common, there are a few side effects that should be noted when taking Ozempic. Over 5% reported the following side effects. Side effects include
- Abdominal pain
Stomach side effects are common for those starting Ozempic but have been reported to decrease over time.
Some more serious adverse reactions occurred. You should call your doctor immediately if you suspect or have any of these conditions. More serious conditions include:
- Hypoglycemia ( low blood sugar)
- Pancreatitis (inflammation in the pancreas)
- Diabetic Retinopathy (eye damage caused by diabetes)
- Kidney failure
- Thyroid Cancer
- An Allergic reaction
Ozempic lowers blood sugar levels by boosting levels of GLP-1, which improves insulin resistance, boosts insulin secretion, and promotes weight loss.
While it’s not approved as a weight loss drug, Ozempic can promote weight loss by slowing gastric emptying and influencing hormones that impact appetite.