FAQ on Heart Valve Disease: Fen-Phen

What is Fen-Phen?
What is Valve Heart Disease?
What is the relationship of Fen-Phen To Heart Disease?
What are the signs of Heart Valve Disease?
Is Heart Valve Disease Reversible?
How is Heart Valve Disease Treated?
What Drugs Can Be Used in Place of Fen-Phen?

What is Fen-Phen?

Fenfluramine ("Fen") and Phentermine ("Phen") and are prescription medications approved by the FDA as single medicines for short-term (a few weeks) use as appetite suppressants in the management of obesity. Some physicians have prescribed them recently to be used in combination with each other and to be used for extended periods of time in weight loss programs. Such use of the products is called "off label" because there have been no studies presented to the FDA to demonstrate either the effectiveness or safety of the two drugs taken together or for longer periods of time (greater than a few weeks).

"Fen" is short for fenfluramine, a drug affecting serotonin, marketed as Pondimin. It is approved for short-term use as an appetite suppressant. "Phen" is short for phentermine, an amphetamine-like drug marketed under various trade names such as Redux, as well as several generic forms of phentermine. It is approved for short-term use as an appetite suppressant.

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What is Valve Heart Disease?

There are four major valves controlling the flow of blood into, out of, and between the four chambers of the heart. Several disease processes, including infection and toxicity, may damage the valves, causing them to malfunction, and may produce severe heart and/or lung disease.

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What is the relationship of Fen-Phen To Heart Disease?

Recently, the FDA has received reports of confirmed valvular heart disease in the United States between people ages 35 and 72 who had taken the drug combination for time periods ranging between 1 and greater than 16 months (average 9.5 months). A direct causal relationship between the use of the drugs and the valve disease has been established; however, the occurrence of a severe and usually rare disease in an otherwise healthy population of young obese women is a matter of serious public health concern.

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What are the signs of Heart Valve Disease?

The occurrence of a new heart murmur (abnormal sound as the blood flows over a valve) is usually the first indication of the development of valvular heart disease. Abnormal valve function may then be evaluated by a painless, non-invasive test called echocardiography, usually performed by a cardiologist. More severe symptoms of the disease include shortness of breath, loss of tolerance to physical activity, and fluid retention in the legs and lungs.

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Is Heart Valve Disease Reversible?

Presently, good data is not available to answer this question.

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How is Heart Valve Disease Treated?

In some instances, medication can control the heart failure associated with valvular damage. In others, surgery to replace the valves with artificial valves may be necessary.

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What Drugs Can Be Used in Place of Fen-Phen?

You need to discuss with your health care provider whether alternative approaches to appetite suppression and weight control would be appropriate for your individual case. Currently, no available weight-loss drugs have been studied adequately in combinations to permit a recommendation by FDA for combined use.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury as a result of taking any drug or supplement, call Law Offices of Robert Dourian now at 800-790-8856 or CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A SIMPLE CASE FORM. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to review your case, we will work on a contingent fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary award or recovery of funds. Don't delay! You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.

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