Sudden Cardiac Death: Jeannie’s Story

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March 19, 2013 | 22 Comments


  1. If patients were able to identify which part of their medical histories were relevant each time a prescription was issued, we would not need doctors. Of interest here, as David Healy has pointed out, is that the prescription system has perversely become a barrier to acknowledging damaging side effects.

    • Good point Julie! I had a near-miss experience with two drugs that affect the QT interval: lithium and Cipro. The combination caused me to pass out cold twice in 24 hours. Like most people I knew precious little about matters cardiac. But thanks to this site I located the problem, stopped one of the medications and had no more trouble. (And while RxISK is the best, I know of at least two other sites where this information is available to any layperson who can spell Cipro.)

      However, no one warned me — not the doc who prescribed the lithium, not the doc who prescribed the Cipro, not the pharmacist. Despite all three being riveted to their computer screens. You’d think in the brave new world of Electronic Health Information, it would be easy as pie to include an app that would flash a Caution whenever two such drugs were prescribed together. (Or whenever one was prescribed for someone with a known cardiac problem.)

      This can’t be a technical problem, it’s too damn easy. Must be a lack of the political or economic will to do it. (Both doctors dismissed the possibility when I reported it.) Yet I bet there’s an app that can flash a reminder to write a statin script whenever the doc enters a cholesterol number over some set level!

  2. My mother died of a heart attack on December 10th, 2011, after ingesting a single dose of Cipralex-10mg, which was prescribed the day before. I was successful in convincing Kathy Tomlinson of CBC News’ ‘Go Public’ segment in doing a story on this, that appeared on Oct. 1st, 2012. (see links below – perhaps you have already seen this story?). Since January 2012, I’ve been studying and researching what exactly happened to my mother, and now, just over a year later, I believe I have a good understanding of what transpired (I am not a healthcare professional, so most of this was all new to me).
    I’m convinced my mother was also addicted to Ativan (Lorazepam), since almost all the symptoms she was experiencing – confusion, memory loss, loss of balance, ‘unable to function’, episodes of sobbing, sleeplessness, auditory amplification, monophobia – are classic symptoms of benzo. addiction. The product monograph for Ativan states that it should not be taken for any longer than 2-4 weeks, yet the pharmacy records that I obtained show that my mother was on it for almost 5 years – and increasingly so in the weeks leading up to her death. Her GP thought nothing about refilling her prescription, month after month, year after year.
    Tragically, my mother REPEATEDLY expressed concerns of possibly being addicted to Ativan to both the outreach nurse and her GP as is evident from the medical records. Her doctor, not knowing what else to do, booked her an appointment with a psychiatrist, who prescribed her Cipralex-10mg, which I believe killed her. It is known to cause QT-Interval prolongation which can lead to Torsades de Pointes. The ER report from the day she died, just 1 page long, clearly states “Torsades de Pointes”.
    Both the ER report and the Coroner’s report state “Natural Causes”. The Coroner’s report is a joke, saying that my mom was depressed because my dad was admitted to a nursing home.

    IF this is all true, know that benzo. addiction not only wreaked havoc on my mother, but myself and the rest of our extended family and friends as well, for almost 2 years. Ultimately, this addiction led to the prescription of dangerous antidepressants & her death, since her symptoms were interpreted as depression, when it fact it is clear to me it was benzo. addiction. That so-called medical experts did not recognize this, even with my mother having suggested it on multiple occasions is more than astonishing to me.
    I too, plan to file a lawsuit not only against the prescribing doctors and the prescribing pharmacy, but also Health Canada and Lundbeck, since they knew of the risks carried by Cipralex at the same time as the regulators and Lundbeck divisions in Europe – yet Lundbeck Canada & Health Canada waited MONTHS before issuing the same advisories in Canada.
    I blame ALL OF THEM for my mother’s death – no, murder.
    After reading the results of the trial above, I will leave it up to the attorneys as to whether
    a case can even be won.
    I am absolutely disgusted with our drug regulators, big pharma and the medical profession in general. Even if changes are implemented by the profession and the drug regulator, it will not remove my disdain for them. The damage has been done, and may very well be permanent. I will continue to speak out about them to as many people that I can.
    The story below is the first salvo:

    Here is one version of the CBC Video news segment:
    or on CBC:

    Here is the 2nd version of the news segment:

    Here is the Printed story (be sure to read the comments after the story – they’re good):
    CBC Webpage:

    Yahoo Canada News:

    And there are many other websites carrying this story, including YOUTUBE, just search for the title “Son Blames…”. On YouTube, just type in “Cipralex” and the video is in the first 3 items on youtube.

    Be vigilant, and tell as many people as possible about the dangers of SSRIs and Benzodiazepines!

  3. In 2012 I was very close to die of hearth attack after only 5 days of being on Celexa 10 mg! I live a healthy lifestyle, no medical issues, I don’t smoke, don’t drink, and never take drugs other than some Advil. The psychiatrist has prescribed me Celexa even though I was against any medication. stay away from Celexa!!!

    • Sonya, I was just prescribed the 10mg too and am totally healthy, 29yrs old. I haven’t taken my first dose because I’m concerned about what others are saying. What was your experience in those 5 days? Did you end up in the ER? Thanks in advance for your reply!

      • If I were you I would not take any antidepressent, there are other ways to deal with anxiety and depression.

    • I am on heart rate went into the 30’s…was in Cardiac Unit for 6 days… requested my primary to swap me to different anti depressant
      He won’t…sending me to Psychiatrist
      Which I can’t get into for 3 months
      with full insurance.
      I’m scared to death…which doesn’t help at all

  4. Hi,
    I just started browsing about Citaloprsm and found this site.
    Last year my mother died of some sudden cause. We are still puzzled (we’re from Brazil, things are bureaucratic). She died on her bed, just like the described case. She had complained of headaches the days before. I know she was taking Citalopram. I have to ask my brother about the dosage. She was 51, healthy although she would stop and restart smoking from time to time, nothing else. I don’t know what to think yet, but I will sure talk about it with my family.
    I wish us all clarity to understand what happened.

  5. Jeannie’s doctors were Dr. M. her GP, Dr. T., her cardiologist, and Dr. P., her therapist/psychiatrist.
    These three comprised the “team” of physicians who looked after Jeannie during her entire first year as an International Student at USC in Los Angeles, and they were all very well aware of her heart issues and complete health history. Medical records turned over for trial after Jeannie’s death revealed that her cardiologist, Dr. T., possibly saved her life at one point during this first year, when he quickly alerted her GP in time to have Jeannie stop using a medication which Dr. P. had prescribed that threatened a risk to her heart. When Jeannie later returned to USC to complete her degree, these same 3 doctors were in place to carry on, and Dr. P. once again “led the team”. As before, these doctors were fully aware of Jeannie’s health and history to date, and picked up with her as their patient where they’d left off. The records document how Jeannie was open with her doctors, and that she didn’t hold back, reporting any concerns that came up. It is clear Jeannie completely trusted Dr. P.
    But she would never have agreed to take Celexa if she’d been made aware of the risk to her heart.

  6. I was given lexapro after the birth of my daughter. I started having heart Palps, my heart would flutter, I told the doctor who prescribed these deadly pills to me, she insisted it was my anxiety. I have been off 3 years and I’m off a benzo 7 months after a long taper, I have been suffering 5 ling years because of these drugs, I still get the heart Palps, my new doc thinks the lexapro has caused demaged to my heart. These drugs need to be banned. They destroy lives. I’m sorry to hear about you’r daughter, I’ll be honest I don’t even think the docs know what these drugs do.

  7. Yeah , it is so true, we trust doctors but they should have our entire health history and should take the time to read it and make sure they’re safe for us, but it doesn’t seem to be that way.I think that we should do our research on any medication we are been prescribe and decide from there if we take it or not.

  8. Is there any safe antidepressants? Was prescribed celexa and i have mitro valuve prolapse. I took my first dose today and have been feeling heaviness on the left side of my chest…idk if its psycosamatic, but i will not be taking anymore celexa after reading these comments. I will try some kind of natural herbs. It always death or Increased medical problems with all these new drugs. This is sick and sad that pharmacist company’s are this low down and dirty and the physicians they work hand and hand with….Really sad and my condolences to those who’ve lost loved ones because of it.

  9. Taking 20 mg citalopram after bad side effects with vibryd 10 mg. have taken cit before but this time I started feeling a fullness and congested like a head cold or sinus infection. Developed a deep cough as well. Woke up in the middle of the night and my right foot and hand were swollen and tingling. The next day still felt tingly. Heart palpitations began. Mental fog creeped in. Woke up with right eye watering and blurred vision. Dizziness began. I took today off work. No citalopram. I’m hoping these symptoms will start to clear up. Scary and unusual. I’m beginning to believe that anti depressants and 7 years of klonipin use are taking their toll on my overall health. Be weary of starting a psychiatric drug regime for mild depression and anxiety. Work on diet, exercise, adequate rest, building a support system where you help others as well, and spiritual well being. Make friends and find a hobby. See a good therapist.

  10. My sweet mom died from taking lexapro. She died instantly from a heart attack. She was only 68 years old and I knew something was wrong with her because she breathed like she was gasping for air all of the time and she had crazy muscle twitching. Please, if u do take this drug, look out for deadly side effects.

  11. I’ve been on 80mg of celexa for 15+ years with no issues. My new doctor is telling me I can’t do this any longer and I’m freaking out bc I take it for severe anxiety and OCD and after trying many different drugs, found this to be the only thing besides xanax to help.

  12. Was on citalopram 20 mg for 8 years
    . Didnt really help me past the first year or 2 but I continued to take it. I was a walking zombie not really caring about life. I’ve now started to have some health problems. Though I’ve been off the drug for 3 years now and things were actually better. Scared I’ve done damage to my heart and they didn’t even help me I’m only 39 and never really got my life started thanks in part to these drugs. That poor woman in this story. I’m so sad.

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