Yesterday, I visited my son at his apartment and while I was there, a friend of his came over. She is a Registered Nurse at the local hospital and I've known her for quite a while. We had our usual chatty exchange and I told her that I was going to make an effort to improve my health over the coming year, in tandem with DD. You know how it is when you chat, one thing leads into another .... we joked about all the different ways that we've tried to lose weight over the years, some of them silly and others (as it turned out) just plain dangerous. As usual, Yours Truly's attempts to lose weight definitely veered into dangerous territory when I spent months on the Fen/Phen diet drug combination. This was 20 years ago and, quite by chance, RN mentioned a patient who had been under her care recently, who had developed heart and lung problems tied to Fen/Phen 20 years later. As in, the lady was struck down a couple of months ago. This lady apparently had felt just fine up until September of this year and then, suddenly, dropped like a rock. She has Pulmonary Hypertension which is an untreatable, ultimately fatal condition caused, the doctors are guessing, by her months spent taking a drug combination that was known to be dangerous but allowed to remain on the market while the drug company responsible dragged their feet in removing it from use. The FDA eventually stepped in and made the dangers known.
From the internet:
"Fen-Phen – This diet pill makes you feel full and thus
considerably reduces your appetite. It also boosts your metabolic rate
and thus exceeds energy levels. There are dangers galore with the drug.
It contains two already banned substances in Fenfluramine and
Phentermine. It causes severe heart ailments, anxiety and high blood
pressure. It also has an adverse effect on liver. This is the reason why
it is banned."
Just great. I already knew that these diet drugs had been banned and were dangerous but I had forgotten about the risks involved. As you do. Well, I just got a wake up call.
RN told me to watch out for a high pulse rate, as well as high blood pressure, not to mention chest pains. She said that there is a general feeling of anxiety that goes along with this condition, which would be business as usual for me, but she said that the high pulse rate is the symptom that most people don't realize. A resting pulse rate of 120+ is a pulse rate in the danger zone.
Needless to say, I have been obsessing over this new clanger and I'll be monitoring my BP, pulse and all the rest of it. The percentage of users of the Fen/Phen combo who have suffered from heart damage varies widely depending upon the study but I am gathering that the number of those affected ranges between 20-30%. I can only hope that I'm one of the 70% who will escape long term heart damage. It's one more thing for me to get my knickers in a twist over.
Yes, I have anxiety issues. Are they Fen/Phen related? I don't think so. I've suffered with anxiety ever since I was a small child.
Am I winded lately? Yes. I'm guessing that's because I am 60-70 pounds overweight.
Is my resting pulse rate over 120? No. It's usually somewhere in the 80s.
Does my heart feel 'healthy'? No. I am short of breath too often these days and I frequently feel palpitations and beat skips. Often, I feel my heart thumping.
Will I make an appointment with a cardiologist and get an echocardiogram? Yes, I will.