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Ozempic not a ‘quick fix’ for weight loss despite popularity: doctors – Global News



Kerry Toneguzzi has tried everything to lose weight.

From low-calorie and liquid diets to WeightWatchers, nothing worked. In 2007, she had bariatric surgery and lost 100 pounds — only to gain it all back.


When she was diagnosed with diabetes in the fall of 2020, her doctor suggested she try Ozempic — a drug approved in Canada to treat diabetes, with a frequent side effect of weight loss.

Read more:

Why WeightWatchers could soon start prescribing weight loss drug Ozempic

“In the beginning, I didn’t think it would ever work for me because nothing really had worked for me,” Toneguzzi, 55, said.

But it did. The Ottawa-area insurance underwriter lost 115 pounds over about two years. What she finds even more remarkable is that she hasn’t gained any of it back.

“For me to maintain my weight for a year, it’s a win,” she said. “This drug has given me a second chance at life.”

Like Toneguzzi, many Canadian obesity specialists and endocrinologists are welcoming Ozempic as a drug that actually works in treating what they say is a genetic, medical condition.

“We’ve failed to have success in pharmacotherapy until now,” said Dr. Sean Wharton, an internal medicine specialist who runs a weight and diabetes management clinic in Burlington, Ont.

With the advent of Ozempic, people living with obesity finally have a drug that can make a difference and can be an alternative to bariatric surgery, he said.

But Ozempic has gained notoriety in recent months, with celebrities singing the drug’s praises and many people posting success stories in weight loss they attribute to the drug.

Demand for Ozempic in Canada has risen steadily over the last year, according to the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada, which represents most of the major pharmacy chains in Canada, as well as many community drugstores.

Read more:

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The problem with that, some doctors and pharmacists say, is that Ozempic isn’t intended for patients who want to drop a few pounds of “cosmetic weight.” Plus, people who need Ozempic likely need it for life — studies have shown that once they stop taking it, the weight often comes back.

“(There) should be no question about that. Nobody should think that they’re using this for short term and going to stop it,” Wharton said.

“This is a forever medication because (obesity is) a genetic disease.”

Ozempic costs between $200 and $300 per month in Canada. Its manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, also got Health Canada approval in 2021 for a drug called Wegovy. Ozempic and Wegovy have the identical active ingredient — semaglutide — but Wegovy is a higher dose to specifically treat obesity.

Health Canada has also approved Wegovy for people who are overweight and also suffering from a serious weight-related condition such as hypertension, diabetes or obstructive sleep apnea.

Click to play video: 'Can medications be used for weight loss? Healthy Living'

Can medications be used for weight loss? Healthy Living

Semaglutide works by acting like a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which promotes insulin production and also stimulates part of the brain that controls appetite. Patients take it by injection once a week.

Because Wegovy is not yet available in Canada — and Novo Nordisk has not given a date when it will be — some doctors are prescribing Ozempic at higher doses for their patients suffering from obesity.

Dr. Ehud Ur, an endocrinologist at St. Paul’s Hospital and Vancouver General Hospital, said it’s important to look at Ozempic and Wegovy as a medical solution to treat a life-threatening medical condition, in conjunction with changes to diet, exercise and sleep habits.

“Most people don’t understand that obesity is not a cosmetic problem. It’s a significant disease. People with obesity will have a 10, 15, 20-year reduction in their life expectancy because of their weight problems,” said Ur.

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But on the front lines of primary care, family doctors have been fielding a growing number of pleas from patients who want an Ozempic prescription, even though they’re not suffering from obesity, said Dr. Iris Gorfinkel, a family physician in Toronto.

Read more:

B.C. doctors call for better access to ‘special authority’ drugs, including for diabetics

“People who are coming to me as a family doctor are people who, you know, they’re struggling with the belly fat, they’re not even diabetic, they’re not even pre-diabetic and they’re asking for the drug,” she said.

Shelita Dattani, vice-president of pharmacy affairs for the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada, also practices on a family health team that is dealing with patients looking for Ozempic as a “quick fix” for weight loss.

“I’ve had people ask me, I’ve had friends ask me … ‘you know, I have a wedding coming up’ or ‘I need to be in a bikini’ or whatever it is,” Dattani said.

Gorfinkel and Dattani both say those requests require thoughtful conversations with patients about weight loss and other measures they can take.

“Obesity is a holistic problem. It is a biopsychosocial problem,” Gorfinkel said.

Those conversations take a lot longer than just saying yes and writing a prescription, she said.

Gorfinkel also worries about potential side effects.

Click to play video: 'Moncton man seeks support from the province for post weight loss skin removal surgery'

Moncton man seeks support from the province for post weight loss skin removal surgery

According to Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic information website, the most common side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain.

Those symptoms go away after a few weeks, said Ur.

The website also lists more serious potential side effects including inflammation of the pancreas, gallbladder problems, kidney problems and low blood sugar.

It also notes that studies in rats showed thyroid tumours. Both Ur and Wharton said there’s no reason to believe that would happen in humans.

The health risks of living with obesity often outweigh the potential risks of taking the drug, they said.

“It’s important to understand who are the appropriate patients to treat because not everyone is a candidate for Ozempic,” Ur said.

“The simple point to make is that in any treatment in medicine you’re balancing risk against benefit.”

Gorfinkel said she would consider prescribing Ozempic along with lifestyle changes if the patient met the medical criteria for obesity.

But so far, that hasn’t happened.

Read more:

U.S. experts recommend weight-loss drugs for some obese children. What about Canada?

“I have yet to prescribe it to any patients,” Gorfinkel said.

“I’m extremely skeptical. I worry tremendously that if I do prescribe it what may happen is that when they come off of it, they may experience significant weight gain.”

When asked if Ozempic and Wegovy are meant to be taken for the rest of patients’ lives, Novo Nordisk Canada said in an email, “Just like other chronic diseases, type 2 diabetes and obesity both require long-term management.”

“Decisions about the appropriateness and duration of any medication should be made on an individual basis in consultation with a health-care professional,” spokeswoman Amy Snow said.

Toneguzzi, who has started a Facebook group in Ottawa for others who are considering Ozempic, has no illusions that the drug is anything short of a lifelong commitment to help maintain her weight.

She also wants to help others be realistic in their expectations, noting that along with taking Ozempic, she worked hard on her weight loss, including a “very regimented” approach to her diet.

“It’s not a miracle,” she said.

“It wasn’t just the medication. I had to change my complete lifestyle.”

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Developing postoperative delirium associated with a faster rate of cognitive decline, says study – Medical Xpress



Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

Research published today (March 20) in the JAMA Internal Medicine finds that developing postoperative delirium is associated with a 40% faster rate of cognitive decline over those who do not develop delirium.

“Delirium is associated with faster cognitive decline,” said Zachary J. Kunicki, Ph.D., MS, MPH Assistant Professor located at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, the first author. “Whether causes this faster rate of decline, or is simply a marker of those who are at risk of experiencing faster rates of decline, is still to be determined.”


“This study has the longest follow-up period of any study examining persons with delirium following ,” said Sharon K. Inouye, MD, MPH Director, Aging Brain Center, Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research, the senior author and principal investigator on the work. “While future studies are needed, this study raises the possibility that delirium may predispose to permanent cognitive decline and potentially dementia. This highlights the importance of delirium prevention to preserve brain health in who undergo surgery,” she said.

Delirium is the most common post-operative complication in older adults and is associated with poor outcomes, including long-term cognitive decline and incident dementia.

Richard N. Jones, ScD, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University is co-senior author of the article, “Six-year cognitive trajectory in older adults following and delirium.”

“The SAGES cohort has followed 560 older adults (age 70 and older), measuring their cognition every six months for 36 months, then annually afterwards for up to six years. Using a detailed cognitive testing battery, comprised of 11 different tests, we found that cognitive changes after surgery are complex and that delirium influences every timepoint. The average cognitive changes seen after surgery include an abrupt drop at one month after surgery, an increase at two months after surgery, a stable period from 6–30 months after surgery, and then steady decline from 3–6 years after surgery.

“Delirium is associated with a sharper drop at one month, greater recovery at two months, and faster decline in all time periods from six months to six years, respectively. The results suggest that either delirium itself may contribute to cognitive decline after surgery, or that delirium may serve to identify those at risk for future more rapid cognitive decline. Future research will be needed to examine whether either or both of these hypotheses best explain the relationship between delirium and ,” say the authors.

More information:
Six-Year Cognitive Trajectory in Older Adults Following Major Surgery and Delirium, JAMA Internal Medicine (2023). DOI: 10.1001/jamainternalmed.2023.0144

Provided by
Hebrew SeniorLife Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research

Developing postoperative delirium associated with a faster rate of cognitive decline, says study (2023, March 20)
retrieved 20 March 2023

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

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A young woman with fever and polyserositis caused by familial Mediterranean fever




  • Familial Mediterranean fever (FMF) is the most common monogenic autoinflammatory disorder; it is characterized by self-limited episodes of fever, polyserositis and elevated inflammatory markers.

  • While symptoms are nonspecific, FMF should be suspected in patients with recurrent febrile episodes accompanied by peritonitis, pleuritis, pericarditis and elevated C-reactive protein, especially among people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent and other at-risk ethnic groups.

  • Treatment with colchicine prevents clinical flares and the amyloidosis and renal failure that can be associated with the disease.

  • Delayed diagnosis can have grave consequences for patients, including unnecessary surgeries and associated complications.

In 2015, a 28-year-old woman of Ashkenazi Jewish descent presented to the medical genetics clinic with concerns about flexible joints, easy bruising, stretchable skin, chronic back pain and mild scoliosis since childhood. Differential diagnoses included connective tissue disorders such as Ehlers–Danlos (EDS), Marfan and Loeys–Dietz syndromes. She had an elevated Beighton score (6/9), reflecting joint hypermobility, and none of the features consistent with Marfan syndrome or Loeys–Dietz syndrome. Her echocardiogram was normal and her family history was unremarkable. A 13-gene panel was negative for EDS, and she was given a clinical diagnosis of hypermobile EDS.

Over the next 5 years, the patient developed recurrent episodes of fever, elevated C-reactive protein (CRP), abdominal pain and other symptoms (Table 1). Although most episodes lasted 1–3 days, the patient often noted recurrence or worsening of symptoms after interventions, such as fever or abdominal pain after various surgeries.

Table 1:


Chronology of events for a 28-year-old woman with familial Mediterranean fever

In 2016, the patient had an ovarian cystectomy for suspected ovarian torsion (no torsion found), an appendectomy for suspected appendicitis (no appendicitis found) and an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography with stent placement for presumed chronic pancreatitis. In 2017, she received diagnoses of cholecystitis, chronic pancreatitis and malnutrition, which led to a cholecystectomy and central line placement for total parenteral nutrition. She also had chest pain and shortness of breath with pleural effusions; presumed volvulus, which led to emergency laparotomy, with no evidence of volvulus intraoperatively; and thrombophlebitis of the internal jugular vein. Intermittent abdominal pain, distension and nausea were attributed to colonic dysmotility related to hypermobile EDS. She had serious malnutrition, and her body mass index dropped from 20.3 to 15.8, which led to placement of a gastrojejunostomy tube to support enteral feeds and avoid complications associated with prolonged total parenteral nutrition.

The patient’s clinical status deteriorated through 2018, with flares of abdominal pain, constipation and feeding intolerance, which continued to be attributed to colonic dysmotility secondary to hypermobile EDS. Gram-negative enteric bacteria were identified on blood cultures twice, and were attributed to the impact of her EDS on the integrity of the bowel wall leading to bacterial translocation. Total colectomy and ileostomy were performed, followed by prolonged recovery, with recurrent fevers, elevated CRP and abdominal pain. After a period of stability, reversal of her ileostomy with J-pouch formation was complicated by postoperative abdominal pain, fever and elevated CRP. In 2019, she had episodes of left lower quadrant pain and tenesmus, diagnosed as pouchitis and managed with antibiotics. In 2020, the patient had episodes of pelvic pain and fever lasting 2–3 days, elevated inflammatory markers, pericardial effusion, hepatosplenomegaly and blood cultures positive for Escherichia coli. She was given a diagnosis of urosepsis and prescribed antibiotics.

In 2020 the patient sought a genetics reassessment. No clinical diagnosis was made; however, it was thought that her history could not be explained by hypermobile EDS. A geneticist ordered whole exome sequencing, which found compound heterozygous pathogenic DNA variants in the MEFV gene, namely c.2084A>G (p.Lys695Arg) and c.2177T>C (p.Val726Ala), consistent with familial Mediterranean fever (FMF).

The patient was referred to a rheumatologist and started on colchicine 0.6 mg once a day. During the 2 years since she started taking colchicine, she has had 2 mild, self-resolving flares of FMF that did not require hospital admission or intervention. She has returned to her baseline strength and nutritional status, and has stopped all other medications. She has no evidence of renal amyloidosis; her serum creatinine (71 mmol/L) and urea (4.4 mmol/L) are within normal ranges, and she has no protein in her urine.


Familial Mediterranean fever is the most common monogenic autoinflammatory disorder; it is characterized by self-limited episodes of fever, polyserositis and elevated inflammatory markers.14 The condition is associated with gain-of-function sequence variations in the MEFV gene that encodes for the pyrin protein, and results in uncontrolled production of interleukin-1β and an exaggerated inflammatory response.1,2,4 The disease manifests as recurrent bouts of fever, abdominal pain and chest pain that start abruptly and peak soon after onset, last for 1–4 days and then resolve spontaneously. Patients typically have no symptoms between attacks.2 Familial Mediterranean fever should be considered for patients who have undergone laparotomy or laparoscopy with no pathology identified. Stress, cold exposure, fat-rich meals, infections, vigorous exercise, surgery and the menstrual cycle may all provoke an attack. Familial Mediterranean fever may present uncommonly as erysipelas-like erythema, aseptic meningitis, recurrent urticaria or vasculitis.3

Laboratory abnormalities during attacks are nonspecific and include elevated systemic markers of inflammation, leukocytosis with neutrophilia, and elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate, CRP and fibrinogen. Serum amyloid A protein is also elevated during attacks, but is not routinely measured unless a diagnosis of FMF is suspected.3 One of the long-term complications of untreated disease is amyloidosis of the kidneys, which has been reported to be present in about 12% of patients with FMF; it can have severe complications, including renal failure. 1,2 Amyloidosis may also develop in the spleen, liver, gastrointestinal tract, thyroid and testes. Small bowel obstruction may develop because of recurrent peritonitis and adhesion formation. Before colchicine was used in the treatment of FMF, infertility was common and was thought to be caused by obstruction of fallopian tubes in females and testicular amyloidosis in males.2,3

Familial Mediterranean fever is common in people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, with a substantial gene carrier rate (about 1:7.8).5 The prevalence is about 1 in 500 to 1 in 1000 among people of other at-risk ethnic descents, including those of Turkish, Armenian, Arabic, non-Ashkenazi Jewish, North African, Italian, Greek, Chinese and Japanese ancestry. Known risk factors include family history of FMF, present in 30%–50% of people with the condition, and belonging to an at-risk ethnic group.6 More than 95% of genetic carriers are asymptomatic; however, some individuals with a single mutation may manifest symptoms and may benefit from treatment with colchicine.1

Our patient’s many episodes of fever and abdominal pain led to different diagnoses, invasive procedures and complications. Intraoperative findings and postoperative pathology reports were often inconsistent with the initial diagnosis of hypermobile EDS, and hospital admissions were prolonged owing to postoperative flares of pain, fever and elevated CRP. Over the course of her illness, treating clinicians appeared not to have considered FMF.

Hypermobile EDS is the mildest subtype of EDS, with no life-threatening complications, although patients with hypermobile EDS can have various types of gastroesophageal dysmotility such as esophageal dysmotility, gastroparesis, small bowel or colon altered transit time or global dysmotility.7 However, unlike the vascular EDS subtype, hypermobile EDS does not cause bowel wall fragility or rupture. Genes for hypermobile EDS have not yet been identified. Vascular EDS and other EDS subtypes were highly unlikely in this patient, given her negative results from genetic testing. Hypermobile EDS would not explain this patient’s symptoms, except perhaps colonic dysmotility.7

After the patient developed new symptoms in 2015, genetics specialists were not consulted again until the patient requested a follow-up in 2020. She qualified for whole genome sequencing based on the Ministry of Health of Ontario’s testing criteria of severe functional impairment, multisystem involvement and progressive clinical course. When FMF or another periodic fever syndrome is suspected, a gene panel for periodic fever syndromes can identify pathogenic DNA variants. When variants of unknown clinical importance or single pathogenic DNA variants are found, a diagnosis can still be made based on clinical findings, with the help of diagnostic criteria such as the Eurofever-PRINTO classification criteria.1,8 Whole genome sequencing can be useful in patients with severe multisystem involvement, even in the absence of a clear diagnosis. A patient may also have more than 1 genetic disorder, as in our patient with FMF and hypermobile EDS.

Most patients with FMF are symptomatic by age 20 years.4 In hindsight, the patient had fevers with severe abdominal pain a few times a year, starting in early childhood. Familial Mediterranean fever should be considered in a differential for recurrent fevers, peritonitis and elevated CRP (Table 2).

Table 2:

Differential diagnosis for patients with periodic fevers and elevated inflammatory markers

Treatment with colchicine is effective, preventing FMF flares in more than 60% of patients and reducing the number of attacks in a further 20%–30% of patients. Colchicine can also prevent deposition of amyloid fibrils and subsequent renal failure.24,7,9 Anti–interleukin-1 biological therapy can be used in patients unresponsive to colchicine.24

The symptoms of FMF can mimic other conditions and, unfortunately, patients with FMF often experience years of misdiagnosis, unnecessary surgeries and prolonged hospital admissions. 4,6,10 Delays in diagnosis likely occur because of the lack of specificity in symptoms, and the relapsing and remitting pattern of disease. Furthermore, clinicians may not consider the disease in at-risk ethnic populations.4

The section Cases presents brief case reports that convey clear, practical lessons. Preference is given to common presentations of important rare conditions, and important unusual presentations of common problems. Articles start with a case presentation (500 words maximum), and a discussion of the underlying condition follows (1000 words maximum). Visual elements (e.g., tables of the differential diagnosis, clinical features or diagnostic approach) are encouraged. Consent from patients for publication of their story is a necessity. See information for authors at


  • Competing interests: None declared.

  • This article has been peer reviewed.

  • The authors have obtained patient consent.

  • Contributors: All of the authors contributed to the conception and design of the article. Kayla Richard and Sara Glazer drafted the first version of the manuscript and have contributed equally. All of the authors revised the manuscript critically for important intellectual content, gave final approval of the version to be published and agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided that the original publication is properly cited, the use is noncommercial (i.e., research or educational use), and no modifications or adaptations are made. See:



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Researchers find increase in cases of gestational diabetes associated with screening procedures



There have been reports of an increase in cases of gestational diabetes, but a recent British Columbian study indicated that the majority of the surge can be attributed to improvements in screening procedures. The findings of the study were published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

All racial and ethnic groups in Canada had an increase in the prevalence of gestational diabetes, which went from 4per cent of deliveries in 2004 to 7 per cent in 2014. Though the causes of the surge are unclear, it has been hypothesised that it is caused by older maternal ages, less exercise, and bad food. Researchers looked at data on more than 550 000 pregnancies in BC from 2005 to 2019 as well as the screening method and rates of screening completion. During the study period, diagnoses of gestational diabetes doubled, from 7.2 per cent to 14.7 per cent.

The authors found the increase was largely due to changes in gestational diabetes screening practices, from a 2-step screening process to a more sensitive 1-step screening process. When they adjusted for the increase in screen completion, changes in screening methods and population factors, diagnoses of gestational diabetes increased by less than one-quarter across the 15-year study period. “Despite concerns that a higher proportion of pregnant people with high BMIs, older maternal age or obstetric risk factors were leading to higher rates of gestational diabetes, these were not important contributors to the yearly increase in gestational diabetes in BC,” said Dr. Elizabeth Nethery, School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, with coauthors.

A diagnosis of gestational diabetes affects both the patient and the health system, requiring lifestyle changes, additional health care appointments and monitoring during and after pregnancy. In 2017, BC had the highest provincial rate of gestational diabetes at 13.9%, compared with 9.0 per cent across Canada. “Our study highlights the importance of having data on screening methods and completion to better understand the rising incidence of gestational diabetes observed elsewhere,” the authors conclude.


“We need to look at gestational diabetes policies in BC, because screening changes alone are driving the substantial increase in diagnosis in our province. We need to make sure that any increase in diagnosis is truly beneficial to both patients and the health care system,” said Dr. Nethery, lead author of the study. (ANI)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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