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GLP-1 Drugs Like Ozempic May Increase the Risks of Endoscopy Complications

GLP-1 Drugs Like Ozempic

In recent years, GLP-1 receptor agonists, such as Ozempic (semaglutide), have gained popularity for their efficacy in managing type 2 diabetes and aiding weight loss. However, recent studies and clinical observations suggest that these drugs may increase the risks associated with gastrointestinal procedures, particularly endoscopies.

According to a study published in the respected journal Gastroenterology, almost 1 million U.S. patients who had either upper or lower endoscopy procedures were 33% more likely to suffer from aspiration pneumonia compared to those who weren’t on these medications. 

This statistic highlights a significant concern for patients using GLP-1 receptor agonists who require these procedures. In this blog, we will discuss the broader impact of an Ozempic pen on patient care after endoscopy procedures.  

How Does Ozempic Impact Endoscopy Procedures?

GLP-1 drugs like Ozempic mimic an intestinal hormone that helps lower blood sugar after eating. However, their mechanism of slowing down stomach emptying raises concerns during and after procedures requiring an empty stomach, such as endoscopies. Normally, patients are required to fast to clear their stomachs fully, but these drugs can interfere with this preparation, potentially leading to serious complications. For example, during an endoscopy, a slower emptying rate increases the risk of aspiration—where food or liquid is breathed into the lungs.

Recent studies have begun to quantify these risks. One notable finding is that patients on GLP-1 drugs have a slightly elevated risk of aspiration pneumonia—an infection that occurs when food or liquid is breathed into the lungs. While the overall risk is relatively low, at approximately 0.83%, it becomes more significant in more invasive procedures such as upper endoscopies, where the risk increases by 48%.

Impact and Implications

For the millions of patients undergoing endoscopies each year, even a small percentage increase in risk translates to a significant number of potential complications. Aspiration pneumonia, while treatable, can be particularly severe in immunocompromised patients or with existing lung issues. This highlights the critical need for awareness and careful management of patients on GLP-1 drugs undergoing gastrointestinal procedures.

The Link Between GLP-1 Agonists and Endoscopy Risks

Slowed Gastric Emptying

This effect is beneficial for weight loss and glucose management but can pose risks during endoscopic procedures. For instance, during an endoscopy, a slower emptying rate increases the risk of aspiration—where food or liquid is breathed into the lungs.

Altered Gastrointestinal Motility

GLP-1 drugs can alter the motility of the entire gastrointestinal tract, not just the stomach. This alteration can lead to unpredictable bowel preparation results before procedures like a colonoscopy, where clear bowels are crucial for effective examination.

Potential for Increased Bleeding

There is some evidence to suggest that GLP-1 receptor agonists may increase the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, although the exact mechanism is not well understood. This potential side effect is particularly concerning in the context of procedures that involve biopsies or the removal of polyps.

Recommendations for Patients and Healthcare Providers

Healthcare providers must be informed of all medications the patient takes, which will guide the preparation and potential adjustments needed for the procedure. It is important to evaluate the patient’s current state of gastrointestinal function, as GLP-1 receptor agonists can cause side effects like nausea, vomiting, and delayed stomach emptying. 

A detailed medical history and a review of symptoms can help assess the severity of these effects. Additionally, conducting blood tests to check glucose levels and other relevant markers can provide a clearer picture of the patient’s health and readiness for the procedure.

Medication Management

In certain clinical studies, pausing GLP-1 therapy before undergoing an endoscopy might be recommended. The decision to pause treatment should be taken after a thorough risk-benefit analysis by the healthcare provider. These key considerations include the patient’s current control of diabetes, the urgency and type of the endoscopy, and the specific GLP-1 agent being used. For non-urgent procedures, it might be safer to reschedule the endoscopy after a brief interruption of GLP-1 therapy to minimize the risk of gastrointestinal side effects that could complicate the procedure.

Enhanced Monitoring

Patients who continue their GLP-1 receptor agonist therapy while undergoing endoscopic procedures should be subjected to enhanced monitoring. This includes pre-procedure assessments to determine the level of stomach contents and gastric motility, as delayed gastric emptying can increase the risk of aspiration during sedation. 

Monitoring procedures should also include blood glucose levels, as alterations in medication schedules could affect diabetes control. Implementing these protocols helps quickly identify and manage potential complications, thus ensuring patient safety and the success of the endoscopic procedure.

Personalized Patient Care and Guidelines

Medical professionals are now faced with the challenge of balancing the benefits of GLP-1 drugs with the potential risks during endoscopic procedures. Previously, anecdotal evidence guided the cautious use of these drugs around the time of such procedures. However, as the popularity of these medications increases, more formal guidelines are becoming necessary.

Currently, professional bodies like the American Society of Anesthesiologists and the American Gastroenterological Association offer differing advice. While some suggest pausing these medications before procedures, others call for more research before making formal recommendations. This divergence in clinical opinion underscores the need for tailored approaches based on individual patient risk profiles.

Accessing GLP-1 Drugs Safely

Choosing the right pharmacy is crucial for those needing GLP-1 medications like Ozempic pen. The best Canadian online pharmacies offer a reliable source for these medications, often more affordable than local options. These pharmacies are subject to rigorous standards, ensuring they provide safe and effective medications.

Patients looking to purchase Ozempic pens or similar drugs should consider these pharmacies for their needs. The combination of cost-effectiveness and high standards makes them an excellent choice for managing healthcare budgets without compromising on quality.


The rising use of GLP-1 receptor agonists like Ozempic for managing type 2 diabetes and aiding weight loss highlights their therapeutic benefits. However, their influence on delaying gastric emptying presents increased risks during endoscopic procedures, particularly with the danger of pulmonary aspiration. While the drugs help manage glucose levels and weight, they complicate the essential fasting required for safe endoscopies, increasing the likelihood of retaining stomach contents, which can lead to serious complications such as aspiration pneumonia. 

Considering the best Canadian online pharmacy to purchase Ozempic, Polar Bear Meds stands out as a reliable and cost-effective option. We offer Ozempic pens at prices significantly lower than typical retail outlets in the U.S., making them accessible for more patients managing type 2 diabetes. Importantly, we ensure a smooth purchase process with stringent quality checks, ensuring patients’ medication is safe and effective. 

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