Fenfluramine (and the closely related dexfenfluramine) were widely prescribed as half of a so-called ‘fen/phen’ drug combination used to combat obesity. Since its withdrawal, there have been reports that tens of thousands of lawsuits have been filed against the drug’s manufacturers over damage caused.
In this study, Charles Dahl from the Central Utah Clinic led a team of researchers who studied the heart condition of 5743 former fenfluramine users. He said, “Valve problems were common in individuals exposed to fenfluramines, more frequent in females and associated with duration of drug use in all valves assessed”.
Heart valves, such as the aortic, mitral and tricuspid valves, ensure that blood flows in the correct direction around the heart. When they fail, blood back-flows (termed regurgitation). If the regurgitation is severe enough, congestive heart failure and/or the need for heart valve surgery may occur. Dahl said, “We found clear evidence for a strong, graded association between duration of exposure to fenfluramines and prevalence of aortic regurgitation and for mild or greater mitral and tricuspid regurgitation”.
This is the largest study to examine duration of exposure to the drug and the first to estimate the incidence of valvular surgery among prior users. The authors found that 0.44% of former fenfluramine users in this group had valve surgery as a result of the use of fenfluramines.
This risk for valve surgery was increased approximately seven fold. They write, “This is probably a conservative estimate, as another study has shown that there exists a 17- to 34-fold excess of clinically apparent (presumably severe), valvular disease in persons who had used fenfluramines for four months or longer”.
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The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
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Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
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