Appetite suppressants and valvular heart disease

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Appetite suppressants fenfluramine, dexfenfluramine, and phentermine have been used alone or in combination as an alternative to diet and surgery in the management of obesity. This therapy was halted in 1997 after reports of valvular lesions affecting almost one third of patients treated with these drugs. Fortunately, most cases of appetite suppressant-related valve disease are mild or moderate and rarely required valve repair or replacement. Follow-up studies have suggested improvement in valvulopathy after discontinuation of the treatment. The mechanism of valve disease induced by these drugs is speculative and may be related to their serotonergic effects. Echocardiographic features are similar to carcinoid heart disease and valvulopathy associated with ergot use. Most cases require only follow-up and endocarditis prophylaxis; surgery is rarely needed.

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