Doctors are warning of a NEW deadly complication of Ozempic and Wegovy that can cause food to suck into the lungs and kill patients.

A study warns that surgery patients on blockbuster drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy could be at risk of dying from suffocation.

California researchers looked at nearly 1 million Americans who had an endoscopy, which examines the upper digestive tract.

They found that patients who underwent the procedure – which involves inserting a tube with a camera at the end down the throat while the patient is sedated – were 33% more likely to develop aspiration pneumonia.

This causes food, liquids, or saliva to be drawn into the airways, which could lead to suffocation and kill nearly 60,000 Americans a year.

Dr. Ali Rezaie, study author and medical director of the GI Motility Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said, “Aspiration during or after endoscopy can be devastating.”

The researchers found that those who took GLP-1 drugs such as Ozempic and Wegovy before an endoscopy had a 33% higher risk of developing aspiration pneumonia.

Weight loss drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy mimic the production of the hormone GLP-1, which helps keep the body full.

Weight loss drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy mimic the production of the hormone GLP-1, which helps keep the body full.

“If significant, it can lead to respiratory failure, ICU admission, and even death. Even mild cases may require close monitoring, respiratory support, and medications, including antibiotics.

“It’s important that we take every possible precaution to prevent aspiration from occurring.”

Ozempic and Wegovy are brand names for the drug semaglutide, which suppresses appetite and causes weight loss.

The drug binds to the GLP-1 receptor, a protein that triggers hormones in the brain that keep the stomach full and tell the body to stop eating and avoid cravings.

Wegovy is FDA-approved for type 2 diabetes, obesity and, most recently, heart disease.

Ozempic is FDA-approved for patients with type 2 diabetes, although off-label use for weight loss has become increasingly common.

Researchers analyzed data from nearly 1 million anonymous patients who had endoscopies between January 2018 and December 2020.

They found that those who were prescribed GLP-1 medications such as Ozempic and Wegovy were 33 percent more likely to develop aspiration pneumonia than those who did not take these medications before their endoscopy.

“When we apply this risk to the more than 20 million endoscopies performed in the United States each year, there may actually be a large number of cases in which aspiration could be avoided if the patient safely stopped their GLP-1RA medication in advance.” said Dr. Rezaie.

Aspiration pneumonia is an infection caused by inhaling food, saliva, bacteria, or liquids that gets stuck in the airways.

Symptoms include difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing up blood or pus, chest pain, bad breath, and extreme tiredness.

Dr. Rezaie said GLP-1 medications can cause aspiration pneumonia before an endoscopy because the drugs slow digestion, which causes food to sit in the stomach longer.

As a result, the stomach may not be completely empty while a patient is fasting, which is required before an endoscopy to get a clear picture.

This could lead to suffocation because while a person is under general anesthesia, the contents of the stomach can go up into the mouth and into the trachea and lungs.

Dr. Yee Hui Yeo, lead study author and clinical investigator in the Karsh Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Cedars-Sinai, said, “The results of this study could change clinical practice.”

“Patients taking these medications who are scheduled to undergo a procedure should communicate with their healthcare team well in advance to avoid unnecessary and unwanted complications.”

Aspiration pneumonia is usually treated with antibiotics and oxygen therapy.

Although most people are expected to survive, aspiration pneumonia kills about 58,000 Americans each year, according to data from 2022.

The study was published Wednesday in the journal Gastroenterology.

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