Aims: The aim of this paper is to report clinical characteristics, consequences, echocardiographic features, and pathological findings encountered in patients suffering from valvular disease associated with benfluorex exposure in a multicentre French registry.
Methods and results: Forty patients suffering from unexplained restrictive valvular disease with a previous exposition to benfluorex, a fenfluramine derivative, were identified from eight French university hospitals. Patients were mostly women (87.5%) with a mean age of 57 ± 9 years and high body mass index of 30 ± 7 kg/m²; 37.5% of them presented with severe heart failure symptoms (NYHA class III and IV). Benfluorex mean daily dose was 415 ± 131 mg with total therapy duration of 72 ± 53 months. Resulting cumulative dose was 910 ± 675 g. Common echocardiographic findings were leaflets and sub-valvular apparatus thickening and retraction. Aortic and mitral valve regurgitations resulting from leaflets loss of coaptation were the most frequent findings (87.5 and 82.5%) and were severe in 29 patients (72.5%). Multiple valve involvements were present in 31 cases (77.5%). Pulmonary arterial hypertension was identified in 20 cases (50%). Histopathological examination demonstrated abundant extra cellular matrix encasing the leaflets without modification of valve architecture. Fifteen patients (37.5%) underwent valvular surgery.
Conclusion: Benfluorex-related valvulopathy shares numerous characteristics with other drug-induced valvular disease. Clinical consequences may be serious with severe heart failure symptoms that may lead to surgical treatment.