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New Weight Loss Drugs Pose Anesthesia Risk

Patients taking new weight loss/diabetes drugs such as semaglutide (Wegovy™), and their doctors, need to be aware of the significant risk they pose for sedation or anesthesia, writes anesthesiologist Paul Kempen, M.D., in the summer issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. These drugs impede stomach emptying, thus creating a risk of aspiration of stomach contents and resulting pneumonia.

Television ads, which may air three to five times per hour on some channels, do not mention these anesthesia-specific risks. They are not emphasized in the FDA-approved package inserts, and many prescribers may be unaware of the danger, Dr. Kempen warns.

Drug effects may last for weeks, so the usual precautions of discontinuing drugs before procedures and the standard period of fasting may be insufficient. Dr. Kempen has personally been able to pump out stomach contents after a 24-hour fast, one week after the last known dose of semaglutide. It may take five to seven weeks for the drug to be eliminated, he states.

Aspiration occurring during elective procedures increases mortality nine-fold within 30 days, Dr. Kempen notes.

Prescribers and users of this class of drugs, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists, need to exercise great caution and vigilance, Dr. Kempen concludes.

The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons is published by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a national organization representing physicians in all specialties since 1943.

Read Full Article: https://jpands.org/vol29no2/kempen.pdf

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