FDA drug alert: anti-depressant celexa (citalopram)

Citalopram (Celexa) is an anti-depressant drug prescribed for depression, anxiety and other disorders. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning: this drug should not be used in high doses because of concerns that it may cause damage to the heart.

Dosages of 40mg/ day or higher has been found to cause problems with the heart’s electrical activity. Patients with underlying heart disease and individuals who are predisposed to low levels of potassium and magnesium in the blood are at particular risk.

The FDA alert issued on August 24th reads, “Citalopram should not be used in patients with congenital long QT syndrome. Patients with congestive heart failure, bradyarrhythmias, or predisposition to hypokalemia or hypomagnesemia because of concomitant illness or drugs, are at higher risk of developing Torsade de Pointes, a rare type of ventricular tachycardia.”

According to the alert, research has shown that dosages of Celexa greater than 40 mg/day confer no additional benefit on treatment outcomes. However, the Celexa drug label previously stated that certain patients may require a dose of 60 mg/ day.

People taking Celexa should seek medical attention if they experience irregular heartbeats, breathlessness, black-outs or dizziness.

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