Cedars-Sinai confirms surgery risks for patients taking weight loss drugs

Among nearly 1 million patients who underwent upper or lower endoscopy procedures, those prescribed GLP-1s, such as Ozempic or Wegovy, were 33% more likely to experience aspiration pneumonia than other patients. 

This finding was detailed in a study conducted by researchers at Los Angeles-based Cedars-Sinai. The risk of GLP-1 patients aspirating and regurgitating under anesthesia was first addressed in June 2023, when the American Society of Anesthesiologists recommended halting a patient's last dose before an elective surgery. 

The recommendation was based on anecdotal evidence at the time, and physicians across the U.S. soon implemented new perioperative workflows. Now, data from January 2018 through December 2020 shows an association between GLP-1 use and aspiration pneumonia, or pneumonia caused by foreign objects entering the lungs, according to a Cedars-Sinai news release.

The researchers considered other variables that could affect surgery outcomes, the release said. Results were published March 27 in Gastroenterology.

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