Association between selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor therapy and heart valve regurgitation

Am J Cardiol. 2001 Apr 15;87(8):989-93: A4. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9149(01)01435-7.


The identification of an association between fenfluramines and valvular disease has raised the possibility of a similar association between another class of medications that increases local levels of serotonin, the selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). The objective of this study was to examine the association between heart valve regurgitation and treatment with SSRIs. We examined 5,437 consecutive patients who underwent echocardiography. Patients with a similar likelihood of SSRI treatment were identified by propensity models. The prevalence of regurgitation according to treatment was compared after adjusting for clinical characteristics associated with regurgitation. We also blindly reinterpreted a subset of 2,000 echocardiograms to identify characteristics associated with fenfluramine-associated valvular heart disease such as posterior mitral leaflet restriction. Among 5,437 consecutively hospitalized patients, we identified 292 who had taken SSRIs before admission. Patients taking SSRIs tended to be younger, female, Caucasian, unmarried, and more likely to have psychiatric illness and hypertension (p < or = 0.05). The overall prevalence of regurgitation meeting Food and Drug Administration criteria (at least moderate mitral regurgitation or mild aortic regurgitation) was 30%, with no significant difference in prevalence between those receiving SSRIs (26.7%) and controls (30.4%) (p = 0.19). The association remained negative when comparing SSRI-treated patients to controls with similar characteristics. Furthermore, the prevalence of features described in conjunction with fenfluramine exposure, such as posterior mitral leaflet restriction, was not higher in SSRI-treated patients. Among a large consecutive cohort of patients, the prevalence of mitral and aortic regurgitation in patients taking SSRIs was not different from that of controls, suggesting that SSRIs are not associated with valvular disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aortic Valve Insufficiency / chemically induced*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Echocardiography*
  • Female
  • Fenfluramine / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitral Valve Insufficiency / chemically induced*
  • North Carolina
  • Prevalence
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / adverse effects*


  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Fenfluramine