Among the most important chronic diseases today are obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Obesity is an interesting pathology not only for the multiple causes associated with its appearance but also for the complications that it can give rise to: diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, etc.
Bad eating habits, stress and sedentary lifestyle are producing an obesity pandemic in the world.
Scientific advances continue to surprise humanity. Until just a few decades ago it was impossible to believe that there were drugs capable of controlling body weight, especially in people with chronic diseases such as diabetes.
The Ozempic® (semaglutide) injection and the Saxenda® or Victoza® (liraglutide) injections are quite similar, not only because of their chemical composition but also because of the effects they produce. However, there are important characteristics that can make the difference between one and the other.
What are these drugs?
Semaglutide (Ozempic®) and liraglutide (Saxenda®, Victoza®) are both glucagon-like peptide 1 agonists, which are indicated as a supplement to diet and physical exercise to improve:
- Control of blood glucose (glycemia) and keep it at normal levels.
- The use of fat as an energy source, even as important as carbohydrates in the diet, this favors weight reduction and maintenance of an adequate weight.
Importantly, obesity tends to promote the appearance of severe complications in diabetic patients. These complications can range from increased hormonal alteration to predisposition to cancer, for example.
What is glucagon-like peptide 1? How does Ozempic® work in the body?
This medicine mimics a substance produced by the body in healthy people (and limited production in people with diabetes).
The main effect of Ozempic® is the stimulation of the production and release of insulin, an important hormone secreted by the beta cells of the pancreas and responsible for the uptake of glucose by the cells of the body.
The main place where insulin acts is in skeletal muscle and therefore resistance exercise (such as weight lifting) enhances the effect of Ozempic®.
One of the great advantages of Ozempic® is the reduction of cardiovascular risk, manifested through heart attacks, strokes and even sudden death in diabetics.
How is the presentation of the Ozempic®?
This medicine comes in a very comfortable presentation, a weekly injection of 0.5 or 1 mg of concentration.
The fact that it is an injectable solution is quite positive since it ensures that 100% of the drug is taken up by the body (oral drugs have a much lower absorption rate, a large part of the drugs are excreted without being used by the organism).
Ozempic is easy to apply. Its contents are administered with a small pencil-like syringe and the medication is released into the subcutaneous tissue, not into the muscle (this would make it more painful).
The injection site is usually under the skin of the thigh, abdomen, or upper arm. It is important that each injection be given every seven days and no more than that, as its effectiveness could be diminished and improvement delayed.
The application of this injection must be carried out by a healthcare professional to reduce the risk of accidents. The syringe needle is usually very small and the patient feels a small pinprick. Some redness may develop at the injection site.
Similarities Between Ozempic® and Sexenda® / Victoza®
Both drugs have quite similar mechanisms of action. However, semaglutide (Ozempic®) has certain pharmacokinetic advantages that allow it to have more positive characteristics compared to those of liraglutide (Sexenda® / Victoza®) such as better ability to reduce weight and fewer side or collateral effects (will be detailed later on ).
Semaglutide and liraglutide are especially indicated in patients with the following conditions:
- Diagnosis of diabetes mellitus (or type 2 diabetes).
- Overweight patients (body mass index or BMI greater than 27 kg / m2.
- Obese patients (body mass index or BMI greater than 30 kg / m2.
All medications can cause unwanted effects in some patients. With regard to this type of drug, liraglutide and semaglutide can induce the appearance of side effects such as:
- Nausea and vomiting, mainly during the first 48 hours after injecting the medicine.
- Diarrhea, and therefore it is important to stay well hydrated before and after the administration of the weight-reducing drug.
- Abdominal discomfort such as colic, gas and a feeling of indigestion.
- Constipation, which can be quite annoying for most patients. In case the constipation (constipation) is very severe, the patient should be given laxatives to evacuate the bowels at least every other day.
Most patients do not have side effects or at least they are not as serious. Generally, this type of gastrointestinal discomfort caused by liraglutide or semaglutide disappears on its own without any type of treatment after a few days.
Differences between Ozempic® and Sexenda® / Victoza®
Ozempic® has incredible advantages over Sexenda® / Victoza® (liraglutide) because it produces far fewer side effects. These last two Sexenda® / Victoza®) have the ability to promote other types of side effects much more unwanted and intense than those produced by Ozempic®.
The main side effect of Sexenda® / Victoza® is hypoglycemia, which usually occurs in the first hours after administration of the medicine. Hypoglycemia occurs frequently in diabetic patients and is characterized by dizziness, muscle weakness, mental fatigue, blurred vision, and sweating. Ozempic® does not produce hypoglycemia or significantly alter blood glucose levels.
Other side effects of Sexenda® / Victoza®, not reported with Ozempic® are:
- Loss of appetite: the diabetic patient feels full and stops eating. This can lead to hypoglycemia and anemia if the patient does not consume the necessary amount of nutrients.
- Headaches: they are frequent and tend to appear at night and in the morning. They may be due to occasional hypoglycemia from the use of Sexenda® / Victoza®.
- Indigestion: This can manifest itself as nausea, a feeling of fullness, belching, heartburn, or pain in the upper abdomen (hypogastrium).
- Swelling: which usually occurs in distal regions such as the legs and feet. It occurs due to fluid retention and usually disappears on its own after a couple of days.
- Gas and abdominal distention.
- Urinary infections.
- Changes in taste (the patient feels that the food tastes different or even unpleasant).
- Gastroesophageal reflux: it is the sensation of heartburn or burning in the lower part of the chest, near the stomach. It tends to get worse after every meal and is quite annoying. Some patients may vomit.
- Gastroenteritis: manifested with gastrointestinal discomfort, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
- Anxiety and insomnia: clinical observations suggest that liraglutide may increase levels of nervousness in some patients, even affecting the quality of sleep.
How much can weight loss be using this novel drug?
Loss of body weight with Ozempic® can vary depending on several factors such as:
- The dose of the medicine: which is usually given by injection once a week.
- The severity of obesity (there are various types of overweight).
- The severity of associated pathologies such as diabetes or insulin resistance.
However, in general terms the reduction in body weight can be close to 3 – 5.5 pounds per month. However, if the administration of Ozempic® is accompanied by exercise and a suitable diet, the weight loss can be up to 6 – 9 pounds per month (almost 4 kg).
This pharmacological treatment must be administered under strict medical supervision and with precise control of body weight (through daily measurements of body mass).
What happens if the administration of Ozempic® is not accompanied by exercise and diet?
The diet will not only restrict the excess calories that enter the body but will force the body to use its own reserves of sugar and fat to produce energy and synthesize new useful substances necessary for the normal maintenance of health.
Physical exercise is completely necessary for a correct reduction of body weight since it stimulates the cellular mechanisms responsible for the uptake and assimilation of circulating glucose (which is elevated in diabetics).
If a patient receiving Ozempic® does not follow an adequate nutritional regimen (low in fat and sugars) accompanied by physical exercise, the results will take longer to appear and the patient’s health status may deteriorate before the medicine does its job. in the body.
When should Ozempic® not be used?
Contraindications to Ozempic® are few, but it is important to discuss your health history and family illnesses with your doctor to avoid future complications.
The health conditions classified as “contraindications” to receive this treatment are:
- A disease of the endocrine (or hormonal) system called multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN 2).
- Tumors in the thyroid gland.
- Tumors in the pancreatic gland.
- Renal insufficiency.
- Liver failure.
Ozempic® is totally contraindicated during pregnancy or lactation. Its effects on the fetus are not exactly known but they could alter the normal development of organs and tissues within the uterus.