Echocardiographic improvement over time after cessation of use of fenfluramine and phentermine

Donald D. Hensrud, Heidi M. Connolly, Martha Grogan, Fletcher A. Miller, Kent R. Bailey, Michael D. Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


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 Echocardiograms were obtained at termination of the trial when fenfluramine was withdrawn from the market and 6 months later.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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1191-1197
Number of pages7
JournalMayo Clinic proceedings
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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