Cardiovascular disease is the leading global killer, causing approximately 18 million deaths worldwide each year. Even when non-fatal, cardiovascular events (such as heart attacks and strokes) often result in reduced quality of life and disability. People with diabetes are especially vulnerable, since this condition roughly doubles the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Given that approximately one in eleven adults worldwide has diabetes (with around 90% having type two diabetes), there is an urgent need for effective treatments that can protect this at-risk group.
To date, most studies have focused on stopping the recurrence of cardiovascular events in those who already have type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease (secondary prevention) or are at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease because of other conditions.
A major new investigator-initiated study, coordinated by the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford and funded by the Danish healthcare company, Novo Nordisk, will test whether taking a daily tablet that contains semaglutide can protect people with type 2 diabetes from suffering heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular events. The study, ASCEND PLUS, is the latest in the ASCEND (A Study of Cardiovascular Events iN Diabetes) series of clinical trials and aims to recruit 20,000 UK adults, aged 55 years and older, who have diabetes but have not suffered a heart attack or stroke in the past.