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Zoloft® and Heart Valve Defects

Zoloft® is a prescription medication in the SSRI class of drugs which are used to treat depression. Use of SSRI antidepressants during pregnancy is a controversial topic as the drugs have been linked to an increase in the risk of certain birth defects. Among the congenital defects believed to be associated with SSRI use are heart valve defects and other abnormalities of the heart's structure.

Heart Defects Linked to Zoloft® Use during Pregnancy

Studies have found that drugs like Zoloft® might double the risk of certain heart defects when taken during pregnancy. While the exact mechanism that causes a heart defect is unknown, the damage usually occurs early in the first trimester as the heart develops.

Heart Valve Defects

Heart valves control the flow of blood from the atria to the ventricles and from the ventricles into the aorta and the pulmonary artery. Heart valve defects alter circulation and force the heart to work much harder than normal. Types of heart valve defects include:

  • Aortic stenosis – Aortic stenosis involves the abnormal narrowing of the aortic valve. Since the valve is not fully open the heart has to work harder to pump blood through the valve. The narrowing can occur in the pulmonary valve (pulmonary valve stenosis), below the pulmonary valve (subvalvar) or above the valve (supravalvar).
  • Pulmonary atresia - Pulmonary atresia is a congenital heart defect in which solid tissue forms where the valve opening should be, keeping the valve closed. Due to this the blood from the right side of the heart cannot go to the lungs to pick up oxygen.
  • Mitral Valve Regurgitation – When the mitral valve doesn't close completely, causing blood to flow back through the valve. During a normal heartbeat, the blood flows forward through the heart, not backwards. Patients will likely be short of breath and will be more tired than normal because the heart has to work harder.

As with all congenital defects, heart valve defects range from minor to severe. Affected babies might require one or several surgeries and can experience a range of complications such as developmental delays, seizures, heart failure and death.

File a Zoloft® Heart Valve Defect Lawsuit

If your child was born with a heart complication or another congenital defect and you took Zoloft® or another SSRI while pregnant, our birth defect lawyers may be able to help you. Contact us to schedule a free evaluation of your case.