Go to the page content

What is GLP-1

Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) is a naturally occurring hormone in the body that has a number of benefits, particularly for people with type 2 diabetes1.  

Therefore, GLP-1 RA (receptor agonist) treatments have been developed to mimic the function of the GLP-1 hormone and increase its effect as it occurs in people without type 2 diabetes1, 2

GLP-1 RA is a class of non-insulin medication that assists your body’s natural ability to regulate blood sugar and appetite2.

GLP-1 RA can help reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke, by preventing arterial damage in people with type 2 diabetes who have established cardiovascular disease2-4

Body

How does GLP-1 work?

Heart

Heart

GLP-1 RA may help reduce your cardiovascular risk by preventing or slowing the progression of atherosclerosis* as well as by lowering blood pressure and lipid levels2-5.

*Atherosclerosis is also known as atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease – try saying that five times fast!But you can call it ASCVD for short.

Bonus fact #1
ASCVD is a specific type of heart disease where high blood sugar causes progressive damage to artery walls, leading to blockages from the build-up of fats, cholesterol and other material. This build-up restricts blood flow, increasing the risk of clots6.
Artery Walls
Liver

Liver and pancreas

GLP-1 RA helps maintain normal blood glucose levels by telling your pancreas when to release more insulin when needed2.
At the same time, it also suppresses the release of stored sugar from your liver2.
Brain

Brain

GLP-1 RA helps support weight loss by working in the part of your brain that regulates your appetite and food intake1, 2.
Balance

Balance

It’s all about balance!
By getting your blood glucose and weight under control early, you greatly reduce your risk of future complications such as heart failure7.
However, even if you suffer a heart attack or stroke, there are treatments that can help reduce the risk of subsequent cardiovascular events3-5.
Doctor
Want to know more?
Ask your doctor if a GLP-1 RA is right for you.

Are you ready to test your knowledge?

Take the quiz to find out how much you know about type 2 diabetes and GLP-1 RAs.

 

Question 1 of 6

Busting Diabetes Myths

Millions of people are living with diabetes, approximately 90% of whom suffer from type 2 diabetes8. Despite its prevalence, many myths still persist. At Novo Nordisk, we're committed to improving awareness and treatment for everyone at risk of diabetes across the globe.

 

Myth #1

Blood sugar is the only important factor when it comes to managing diabetes.

It’s also important to manage weight, diet and exercise.

Myth #2

Type 2 diabetes can be cured with lifestyle therapy alone.

As a progressive disease, medication is often required.

Myth #3

Treatments for type 2 diabetes only target blood sugar.

Some treatments also address risk like heart disease.

Myth #4

People with type 2 diabetes are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

8 in 10 people with type 2 diabetes face higher risk.

Myth #5

Insulin therapy is the only viable option for type 2 diabetics.

Insulin is just one of many types of diabetes treatments.

Myth #6

The human body has a naturally occurring hormone called GLP-1 that helps manage blood sugar and regulate appetite.

GLP-1 is produced in the intestine and brainstem.

Bad Luck

You learn more from defeat than victory! Better luck next time.

Good Work

Not bad at all! Still some room for improvement.

Excellent

You're an expert mythbuster! Time to challenge your friends.

Blood sugar is the only important factor when it comes to managing diabetes.

Correct

While blood sugar is a key part of diabetes management, there are a number of risk factors that influence your long-term health, including weight, diet, and exercise. Staying in control help reduce your risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes.



Learn more about monitoring blood sugar
Type 2 diabetes can be cured with lifestyle therapy alone.

Correct

Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease, meaning your condition will evolve over time. And faster if left untreated. While diet and exercise can help stabilise your condition, at some stage, diabetes will require prescribed medication to help balance your metabolism and blood sugar.



Learn more about balancing lifestyle factors and medication
Treatments for type 2 diabetes only target blood sugar.

Correct

Balancing blood glucose is important as type 2 diabetes impairs the body's natural ability to produce insulin. However, treatments should also address heightened risk factors like cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death for people with type 2 diabetes.



Learn more about diabetes and heart disease
People with type 2 diabetes are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

Correct

People living with type 2 diabetes face higher risk of cardiovascular disease, even if symptoms aren't apparent. Ask your doctor about glucose-lowering, cardio-protective treatment options.



Learn more about cardiovascular risk
Insulin therapy is the only viable option for type 2 diabetics.

Correct

There are several non-insulin diabetes treatments available, such as Metformin, Sulfonylureas, SGLT-2 inhibitors, and GLP-1 receptor agonists. As diabetes progresses, it may be necessary to start on one treatment or a combination of two or more.



Learn more about non-insulin treatment options
The human body has a naturally occurring hormone called GLP-1 that helps manage blood sugar and regulate appetite.

Correct

GLP-1, or glucagon-like peptide-1, helps your body release its own insulin and is designed to respond when your blood sugar rises. It also slows down food leaving your stomach and helps reduce the amount of sugar released from your liver.



Learn more about GLP-1 and how it works

 

HQ21DI00124

References
  1. Kim W and Egan JM. The role of incretins in glucose homeostasis and diabetes treatment. Pharmacol Rev. 2008;60:470-512.
  2. Zhao X, Wang M, Wen Z, et al. GLP-1 Receptor Agonists: Beyond Their Pancreatic Effects. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2021;12:721135.
  3. Mannucci E, Dicembrini I, Nreu B, et al. Glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists and cardiovascular outcomes in patients with and without prior cardiovascular events: An updated meta-analysis and subgroup analysis of randomized controlled trials. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2020;22:203-211.
  4. Almdal T, Scharling H, Jensen JS, et al. The independent effect of type 2 diabetes mellitus on ischemic heart disease, stroke, and death: a population-based study of 13,000 men and women with 20 years of follow-up. Arch Intern Med. 2004;164:1422-6.
  5. Nahmias A, Stahel P, Xiao C, et al. Glycemia and Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease: Exploring the Gap Between Risk Marker and Risk Factor. Front Cardiovasc Med. 2020;7:100.
  6. Libby P, Buring JE, Badimon L, et al. Atherosclerosis. Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2019;5:56.
  7. WHO. Diabetes. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes. Last accessed: December 2021.
  8. International Diabetes Federation. IDF Diabetes Atlas 9th edition, 2019. Available at: https://www.diabetesatlas.org/en/resources/. Last accessed: December 2021.
  9. NHS UK. Hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar). Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/high-blood-sugar-hyperglycaemia/. Last accessed: December 2021.
  10. Fox CS, Coady S, Sorlie PD, et al. Trends in cardiovascular complications of diabetes. Jama. 2004;292:2495-9.

Related articles