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High dose of antidepressant Citalopram increases risk of heart problems

Published on 02/07/2012

The UK’s most widely prescribed antidepressant citalopram has been shown to increase the risk of heart problems at a high dose.

A study carried out for the European Medicines Agency (EMA) found that antidepressant Citalopram is three times more likely to cause cardiac abnormalities than other types of antidepressants.

Citalopram is used to treat depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorders and was prescribed more than 13 million times in England and Wales last year.

Experts have now criticised the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for failing to make a public announcement after the risk emerged last autumn.

In the study, electrocardiogram measurements showed that when volunteers were given a 60mg dose of citalopram it took twice as long for their hearts to recover from each beat than when they were given a 20mg dose.

These abnormalities make people more vulnerable to heart arrhythmias and a condition called Torsade de Pointes, a rare speeding of the heart rhythm.

The EMA has now issued advice that the maximum dose for the drug must be lowered to 40mg from 60mg, and to 20mg for elderly people. However, experts admit that it is not clear if 40mg is safe as the study did not examine this dosage.

Since Citalopram started being prescribed in the UK in 1995, 8,600 adverse reactions have been reported to the agency, including 155 deaths. In total, 223 cardiac disorders were recorded and 1,703 disorders of the nervous system.

Peter Walsh, from Action Against Medical Accidents said: “We need assurances that the necessary steps to protect patients from adverse effects of these drugs have actually been put in place.”

“It is particularly disappointing that there has been so little transparency with patients and the public about this.”

If you want to be covered for mental health problems on your health insurance policy then look for a quote with full psychiatric cover.

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012

Categories:  Medical
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