5 notes on Ozempic for gastroenterologists

Usage of weight loss medications including Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists such as Ozempic has skyrocketed in the U.S. in the last year, affecting numerous medical specialties. 

Here are five notes on Ozempic for gastroenterologists to know: 

1. Some patients are obtaining GLP-1s from markets that are not regulated by the FDA, so they are not prescribed by physicians and do not appear on patient records. If patients do not disclose their medication use, it could pose risks to their health. 

2. Guidelines from the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology suggest that providers may need to do additional screenings such as a point-of-care ultrasound of a patient's stomach contents before surgery, as GLP-1s can retain food in patients' stomachs longer. This can pose a risk for patients undergoing anesthesia.

3. Ozempic and other weight loss medications can have GI-related side effects, including nausea and vomiting. 

4. Delayed gastric emptying, also known as gastroparesis, is a more common side effect of GLP-1s than other diabetes and weight loss treatments. Gastroparesis can range from mild symptoms to severe side effects, including refractory symptoms, the inability to orally consume nutrition and frequent hospital admissions. The most severe cases are known as stomach paralysis, and gastrointestinal clinicians have noticed a connection between the condition and GLP-1s. 

5. Research based on health insurance claims from 2006 to 2020 from more than 5,000 patients in the U.S. shows that patients on GLP-1s had a higher risk of developing four serious gastrointestinal problems: biliary disease, gastroparesis, pancreatitis and bowel obstructions. 

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