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Fen-Phen Risks Remain Decades After Use

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Fen-phen can cause heart valve damage decades after an individual stops taking the now-banned diet drug.

That’s what happened to a 51-year-old Idaho woman who took fen-phen for a short time 23 years ago. has had to have three of four heart valves replaced, thanks to the now-banned diet drug. Cindy Cartwright’s valves were so damaged, she had to have three of four of them replaced just last week.

For a little more than a year, Cartwright had been experiencing breathing difficulties that forced her to slow down while walking. According to her doctor, fen-phen caused her heart to expand almost reaching the chest walls. Inside, leaflets of her valves were supposed to be preventing blood from going backwards. Instead the valves weren’t coming together at all.

According to Cartwright’s cardiologist, having three of four heart valves replaced is uncommon. In most cases, valves can be repaired, but the damage caused by fen-phen is usually too severe.

“Unbelievable to think that my valves had just wore out because I’m a healthy person, a young person. It was hard to believe,” Cartwright told Local News 8.

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