Objective: To determine the echocardiographic changes over time of valvular heart lesions in patients who took the weight loss drugs fenfluramine and phentermine. Subjects and Methods: This prospective cohort study began at the termination of a randomized, double-blind, placebo- controlled weight loss trial of 18 obese women and 13 obese men (mean age, 42 years; mean body mass index, 33.4 kg/m2) who had been assigned randomly to treatment with fenfluramine and phentermine or to placebo. Echocardiograms were obtained at termination of the trial when fenfluramine was withdrawn from the market and 6 months later. They were interpreted independently by 3 cardiologists blinded to treatment assignment and temporal sequence of the echocardiograms. The main outcome measure was the change in drug-related valvular disease over time. Results: One subject assigned to receive the drugs was lost to follow-up, and 3 subjects who did not meet a weight loss goal of 10 kg crossed over from placebo to drug treatment. Echocardiograms were obtained in 19 subjects who received the drugs and 11 subjects who received placebo, and 6-month follow-up echocardiograms were obtained in 15 subjects who received the drugs and 3 who received placebo. Subjects had taken fenfluramine and phentermine a mean of 41 weeks (range, 8-73 weeks). Five of 19 subjects who received the drugs (26%; 95% confidence interval, 7%- 46%) and 1 of 11 who received placebo (9%) (odds ratio, 3.6; 95% confidence interval, 0.4-35.6) had findings that met criteria established for drug- related valvular disease. All 5 subjects (4 women and 1 man) receiving the drugs had mild aortic regurgitation, and 1 also had pulmonary hypertension (estimated pulmonary artery pressure, 59 mm Hg). Six months later, the echocardiographic findings had improved in all 5 subjects (P=.06), and 3 no longer met the criteria for drug-related valvular disease. Pulmonary artery pressures decreased to near normal in the subject with pulmonary hypertension (37 mm Hg). Overall, the echocardiographic valvular features improved in 8 of 15 subjects who received the drugs and had echocardiograms performed at both time periods (P=.008). Conclusions: Valvular heart disease did not appear to progress after cessation of use of fenfluramine and phentermine, and echocardiographic valvular features appeared to improve over time.
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