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How Semaglutide Works in Weight Loss and Type 2 Diabetes

ID: ANH24276
MEDICAL ANIMATION TRANSCRIPT: Semaglutide is a medicine used to help control high blood sugar in people who have type 2 diabetes. It may also be used to help people with excess weight or who have obesity to lose weight. For those who have type 2 diabetes and heart disease, this medicine is also approved to help reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, or death. In order to understand how semaglutide works, it's important to know how your body controls blood sugar levels. Your pancreas is an organ that helps control the amount of sugar in your blood called glucose. When your digestive track breaks down foods such as carbohydrates into glucose, it begins to release the glucose into the blood stream. The glucose in your digestive track triggers it to release a chemical called glucagon-like peptide-1 or GLP-1. GLP-1 slows the movement of food out of your stomach, which slows the movement of glucose into your blood. This helps slow down the rise in blood glucose after you eat. GLP-1 also causes your pancreas to release a hormone called insulin. Insulin helps your body's cells use glucose for energy, which lowers the amount of glucose in your blood. If your blood sugar is too low instead of releasing insulin, your pancreas releases a different hormone called glucagon. Glucagon helps your liver make glucose. Your liver releases it into the bloodstream which raises your blood sugar. If you have type 2 diabetes, your body can't control blood sugar levels properly. For example, your digestive track may release less GLP-1, leading to less insulin release. In addition, your pancreas may not be able to make enough insulin or your cells may resist its effect or both. And your pancreas may also release glucagon at the wrong times. This can cause your liver to release glucose into the blood even if your glucose levels aren't low. Since your cells can't use all this extra sugar, it begins to build up in your blood. This is called hyperglycemia. Over time, untreated hyperglycemia can damage your nerves and blood vessels. This damage can lead to disease in some parts of your body such as the feet, brain, eyes, heart, and kidneys. If you have type 2 diabetes and have excess weight, you may have hidden fat called visceral fat around the organs in your belly. This type of fat may cause your body's cells to resist the effects of insulin so that they can't effectively use the glucose in your blood. Semaglutide medicines are part of a class of drugs called GLP-1 agonists. You take them by injection or by mouth as tablets. GLP-1 agonists act like the GLP-1 that your body makes. In treating type 2 diabetes, the goal of semaglutide medicines is to prevent hyperglycemia or high blood sugar. They do this by acting like GLP-1 to cause your pancreas to make more insulin when blood sugars are high, which allows your cells to use the sugar in your blood. They can also help stop the inappropriate release of glucagon from your pancreas, which stops your liver from putting glucose into your blood stream at the wrong times. Semaglutide medicine for weight loss acts like GLP-1 to help slow the movement of food out of your stomach. Since this increases the feeling of fullness, it can help you eat less. Semaglutide may also act on the hunger areas of your brain to decrease your appetite. And if you have type 2 diabetes, semaglutide medicines can help you lose weight, including visceral fat. As a result, your cells are less likely to resist that effects of insulin to use glucose in your blood. Semaglutide's more common side effects are mild to moderate stomach and bowel problems such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. There is a risk for low blood sugar called hypoglycemia if you're also taking other medicines that lower blood sugar such as insulin or sulfonylureas, but GLP-1 medicines like semaglutide are unlikely to cause hypoglycemia when taken alone or in combination with metformin, which is a medicine used to treat type 2 diabetes. To find out more about semaglutide, talk to your healthcare practitioner.
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