Lexapro and Heart Defect Side Effects

Lexapro heart defects can cause serious cardiovascular complications. Contact a Lexapro attorney to discuss your options for financial compensation.

Researchers have warned consumers about the risk of serious side effects potentially linked to SSRI antidepressant drugs like Lexapro. According to recent studies, women who take Lexapro during pregnancy may be significantly more likely to give birth to children with severe birth defects like heart malformations. Lexapro (escitalopram) belongs to a class of antidepressant drugs called SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and functions by acting upon the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain to relieve depression and improve other mood disorders. Since it garnered FDA approval in 2002, Lexapro has been used in the treatment of major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, and is currently manufactured by drug maker Forest Laboratories. Despite the popularity of Lexapro and other SSRI antidepressants, the drugs may no longer be considered safe, especially in the treatment of pregnant women. If you took Lexapro while pregnant and your child was born with a side effect or heart defect, contact a Lexapro attorney for help.

Heart Defects Described

A heart defect is a malformation affecting the structure of the heart muscle or the vessels surrounding the heart. Some heart defects obstruct the flow of blood in the heart, some cause blood to flow through the heart in an irregular manner, and some affect the heart's rhythm. Although some heart birth defects are minor and require little to no treatment, more than half of all infants born with a heart defect require medical treatment, sometimes involving surgery or a heart transplant.

Atrial and Ventricular Septal Defects

Atrial septal defects (ASD) and ventricular septal defects (VSD) are defects characterized by a hole in the wall separating the right and left atria and the right and left ventricles, respectively. In children born with an ASD, oxygenated blood from the left side of the heart is allowed to mix with oxygen-poor blood from the right side of the heart, causing an increase in pressure in the lungs. Common symptoms of atrial septal defects include shortness of breath, heart palpitations, respiratory infections and difficulty breathing. Children born with a small ventricular septal defect may not require treatment, as the malformation may repair itself over time. Unfortunately, in instances of a large VSD, an excessive amount of blood may flow to the lungs, which can lead to heart failure. Common symptoms of ventricular septal defects are sweating while feeding, respiratory infections, rapid breathing, and shortness of breath.

Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome

Hypoplastic left heart syndrome is a serious birth defect in which the left ventricle and other parts of the heart fail to develop properly in pregnancy, causing them to be much smaller than normal. As a result, the heart is unable to pump enough blood to the body's vital organs and tissues. This forces the right side of the heart to over-compensate, maintaining circulation for both the lungs and the rest of the body, which may eventually lead to heart failure. Common symptoms of hypoplastic left heart syndrome are rapid breathing, cyanosis, shortness of breath and poor feeding.

FDA Warnings and Lexapro Side Effect Studies

In 2006, the FDA issued a public health advisory warning patients and healthcare professionals about the increased risk of PPHN in children exposed to SSRI drugs like Lexapro in pregnancy. PPHN, or persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, is a life-threatening heart and lung defect in which a child's circulation continues to bypass the lungs after birth, depriving the rest of the body of oxygen. In 2010, the American Journal of Nursing published a study in which researchers found a 0.9% prevalence of atrial and ventricular septal defects in children exposed to SSRI antidepressants like Lexapro. Comparably, the prevalence among unexposed children was only 0.5%.  In addition, Lexapro has been possibly linked to birth defects such as limb defects, neural tube defects, and anal atresia.


Lexapro and Pregnancy

Lexapro has been classified by the FDA as a pregnancy category C medication, which means it may cause serious harm to a fetus when taken during pregnancy. If you are currently taking Lexapro and you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consult your physician immediately. You should never suddenly stop taking a prescription drug without medical consent, as this may cause further harm to you or your child. However, with your doctor's help, you may be able to find a safer alternative to Lexapro for treating your condition.


Lexapro Attorneys for Heart Side Effects

Heart defects are one of the most common types of birth defects, and are also the leading cause of birth defect-related death among infants. If you or a loved one has suffered from a heart defect and you believe Lexapro to be the cause, contact a Lexapro attorney to discuss your legal options. You may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, and pain and suffering, which you can collect by filing a Lexapro lawsuit against Forest Laboratories. The main goal of Lexapro attorneys is to help victims of potential Lexapro side effects protect their rights and hold the allegedly negligent drug maker liable for their injuries. You are not at fault for any injuries caused by a dangerous pharmaceutical drug, and you should not be held accountable for the resulting consequences. With the help of a qualified Lexapro lawyer, you can collect the compensation you deserve and protect yourself and your family from further harm.

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