Antidepressant drugs including Prozac, Lexapro, Zoloft, and Wellbutrin have been linked to an increased risk of heart murmurs in babies born to mothers who took the drugs during pregnancy. Heart murmurs are unusual sounds heard during a heart beat which may be indicative of severe heart problems. In July 2006, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued a press release warning the public about the risk of heart defects caused by using antidepressants during pregnancy.
Heart Murmur Suit Review: If you or somebody you know has a child who has been diagnosed with a heart murmur after being exposed to an antidepressant drug 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 heart murmurs?
Antidepressant drugs are big business in the United States, with more than 20 million prescriptions filled for these popular medications each and every year. And though they may ease the symptoms of depression and other psychological disorders, antidepressants have also been found to cause severe birth defects like heart murmurs when taken by expecting mothers during pregnancy (especially during the first trimester, a time when many women may still be unaware they are pregnant). The following selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants have been linked to heart murmurs and other congenital abnormalities:
- Paxil (paroxetine)
- Zoloft (sertraline)
- Celexa (citalopram)
- Prozac (fluoxetine)
- Lexapro (escitalopram)
- Symbyax (fluoxetine and olanzapine)
- Wellbutrin (bupropion)
- Effexor (venlafaxine)
Heart Murmur Overview
Normally, the heart beat has two separate and distinct sounds: ‘lub’ followed by ‘dub.’ The first sound is caused by the mitral and tricuspid valves closing. The second sound is the aortic and pulmonary artery snapping shut. A heart murmur occurs when there is a swishing sound caused by turbulent or abnormal blood flow across the heart valve.
Heart murmurs can be present at birth (congenital) or develop later on in life due to a variety of external factors. A heart murmur isn’t a disease, but it may be indicative of a serious underlying heart problem.
Heart Murmur Symptoms
Aside from the unusual sound a doctor hears when listening to the heart with a stethoscope, an abnormal hear murmur may not have any obvious telltale signs or symptoms. However, if your child displays any of the following, he or she may have an underlying heart problem:
- skin that appears blue, especially on the fingertips and lips
- shortness of breath
- enlarged liver
- enlarged neck veins
- poor appetite and failure to grow normally
- weight gain
- heavy sweating with minimal or no exertion
- chest pain
Heart Murmur Diagnosis
A doctor will listen to the heart with a stethoscope for sounds of a heart murmur. They often notice innocent heart murmurs during routine checkups or physical exams. Murmurs caused by congenital heart disease are often heard shortly after birth or during infancy. Once a conclusive diagnosis has been made, healthcare providers usually refer patients with abnormal heart murmurs to a heart specialist (pediatric cardiologist) for further evaluation and testing.
What Causes Heart Murmurs?
While some heart murmurs may be relatively harmless or ‘innocent,’ other congenital murmurs may be due to abnormalities in the valves, arteries and veins that carry blood to and from the heart. Some heart murmurs may resolve spontaneously while others will require surgical intervention to repair.
One commonly reported cause of heart murmurs is due to a condition called patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). While an unborn baby is still in the womb, the aorta and pulmonary artery are connected by a small artery known the ductus arteriosus. Shortly after the child is born, the lungs take over and the artery is supposed to close. However, if other congenital heart conditions exist, the ductus may remain open in an effort to maintain adequate blood circulation. Sometimes, even when no other birth defects exist, the ductus may not completely close and a heart murmur may be present. Medications or surgical intervention may be required to close off the PDA.
In addition to patent ductus arteriosus, other causes of heart murmurs may include:
- valvular heart disease
- valve stenosis
- valve regurgitation
- valve sclerosis
- atrial septal defects (ASD)
- ventricular septal defects (VSD)
- hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
- septal defect
Heart Murmur Outlook (Prognosis)
Most individuals with minor or innocent heart murmurs may require no intervention or care. Those whose heart murmurs signal an underlying congenital issue may be monitored for symptoms that will gradually develop over time. Children whose murmur is due to ASD or VSD may require surgery to repair the abnormality, but should have a fully functional heart after it is repaired.
In adults with heart murmurs, prescription medications and lifestyle changes may help minimize the need for surgery to repair or replace a damaged heart valve. The goal of treatment is to return the blood flow patterns in the heart to normal and allow the patient to return to a normal, active lifestyle.
Is there a time limit in filing a heart murmur lawsuit?
Although we encourage all our potential clients to take great care in selecting their heart murmur 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 heart murmur birth defects lawsuit and look forward to speaking with you.
Attention Lawyers: Schmidt & Clark, LLP considers a referral from another lawyer to be one of the greatest compliments. Our law firm has built a reputation for success and accepts a number of case referrals on a regular basis. We do not publish prior verdicts or settlements on our website. If you would like to refer us a case or for us to send you a profile of prior award judgments or average referral fees, please fill out the form below.