A number of popular antidepressant drugs have been linked to a congenital heart defect known as aortic stenosis, a catastrophic condition that can lead to poor circulation and the inability of oxygen-rich blood to be pumped throughout the body. If left untreated, aortic stenosis can lead to cardiac arrest and even death. If you took antidepressant medications during pregnancy and your baby has been diagnosed with aortic stenosis, the Defective Drug Lawyers at Schmidt & Clark, LLP may be able to help.

Aortic Stenosis Suit Review: If you or somebody you know gave birth to a child with aortic stenosis after being exposed to an antidepressant medication in the womb, you should contact our lawyers immediately. Consultations are always free. Please use our confidential email contact form or call toll free 24 hrs/day by dialing (866) 588-0600.

Which drugs have been linked to aortic stenosis?

Unfortunately, a number of popular antidepressants have been linked to an increased risk for birth defects like aortic stenosis in babies born to mothers who took the drugs during pregnancy (especially during the first trimester, a time when many women may still be unaware they are pregnant). In 2005 and again in 2006, the FDA warned women who are pregnant or may become pregnant not to take certain antidepressants during pregnancy. The following antidepressants have been associated with the development of aortic stenosis:

  • Paxil (paroxetine)
  • Zoloft (sertraline)
  • Celexa (citalopram)
  • Prozac (fluoxetine)
  • Lexapro (escitalopram)
  • Symbyax (fluoxetine and olanzapine)
  • Wellbutrin (bupropion)
  • Effexor (venlafaxine)

Aortic Stenosis Overview

The aorta is a major artery that carries blood out of the heart. When blood passes through the heart, it flows through the aortic valve into the aorta. If the aortic valve is unable to open properly, the condition is referred to as aortic stenosis. This results in significantly decreased blood flow from the heart.

As the aortic valve becomes increasingly narrow, the pressure in the left ventricle increases, causing it to thicken or get stronger to compensate for the increased efforts needed to pump blood throughout the body. The medical term for this condition is cardiomegaly, although it is more commonly referred to as an enlarged or dilated heart. At first, this helps counteract the effects of aortic stenosis. However, over time, the left ventricle progressively increases in size and loses its ability to generate enough force to compensate for aortic stenosis.

This results in decreased blood flow and severe chest pain. If left untreated, blood may back up into the lungs, and the patient will be short of breath. In severe cases, aortic stenosis may prevent an adequate supply of blood from reaching the brain and rest of the body. This may result in abnormal heart rhythms such as atrial fibrillation and/or congestive heart failure.

The most commonly reported type of aortic stenosis occurs when the aortic valve only has two (instead of three) leaflets. This condition is called bicuspid aortic valve (BAV). In many cases, the valve leaflets are thickened and the lines of separation between them are fused together to a variable degree. When the aortic valve fails to open freely, the left ventricle must work harder to eject blood into the aorta.

Signs & Symptoms

Babies born with aortic stenosis may have no outwardly visible signs or symptoms until late in the course of the disease. The diagnosis is typically made when a doctor detects a heart murmur and then orders additional tests to be conducted. Signs and symptoms of antidepressant-induced aortic stenosis may include (but are not limited to):

  • breathlessness
  • chest pain (angina type)
  • crushing, squeezing, pressure, tightness
  • pain increases with exercise, relieved with rest
  • fainting
  • weakness
  • dizziness with activity
  • heart palpitations
  • becoming tired or fatigued with exertion more easily than others (in mild cases)
  • serious breathing problems that develop within days or weeks of birth (in severe cases)

Treatment

If symptoms begin to appear, emergency surgical intervention may be required. The most effective method of treatment is typically surgery to replace the aortic valve. Children who are unable to have open heart surgery may be eligible to receive a balloon valvuloplasty to enlarge the valve opening.

If surgery is not performed after symptoms appear, the patient may die suddenly or develop heart failure. Babies born with aortic stenosis have a high risk of sudden death. On average, patients may die within two to three years if they don’t have valve replacement surgery. Surgery can help affected individuals have a more normal life span.

If there are no symptoms present accompanying the condition, the patient will require regular checkups to evaluate his or her heart. In this case, surgery is usually a last option. Until a patient experiences symptoms, surgery is likely to be riskier than the disease itself.

Prescription medications cannot cure aortic stenosis, but they can treat some problems the condition can cause. Your baby may need to take certain drugs to help control irregular heart rhythms, or blood thinners to prevent blood clots.

Is there a time limit in filing an aortic stenosis lawsuit?

Although we encourage all our potential clients to take great care in selecting their aortic stenosis lawyer, it is important that you understand that time is of the essence. The applicable statute of limitations in your state may time bar your claim. Furthermore, we are unable to provide you with legal advice without first evaluating your potential case. Accordingly, please take the time now to contact us by using the confidential email contact form below or by calling us toll free 24 hrs/day by dialing (866) 588-0600.

We hope we will be able to assist you with your potential antidepressant-induced aortic stenosis birth defects lawsuit and look forward to speaking with you.


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