That was on May 24, 2005. Bess had been afflicted with arthritis for 20 years and she had tried a number of medications to mitigate her pain and swelling joints. Seven years ago, after a host of different pain killers, her rheumatologist put her on Celebrex. "It seemed to help considerably and the insert describing the side effects of the drug had nothing to indicate it was dangerous," says Reid. "I still have the original copy of the label, along with half the prescription of 200 mg Celebrex."
"Gradually her blood pressure increased but we weren't aware that Celebrex was responsible for her hypertension. Bess had a heart attack on November 22, 2005 and continued to have hypertension; she also continued to take Celebrex. I took Bess to ER and they gave her meds to stabilize her heart and kept her for one day. After that, her rheumatologist checked her blood level constantly. And as the results came back, there was a sharp increase in creatin level—indicating the kidneys are not functioning properly.
At that time, the doctor told us, and we were given a copy of his findings, that she had lost 50 percent of the use of her kidneys and he recommended that she discontinue Celebrex immediately.
On December 18, 2006 she had to go back to the hospital to have a portion of her colon removed. While in the OR, she had a full-blown heart attack - but her bowel surgery was successful. During the ICU stay after surgery, she had a second heart attack. After consultation with the attending physician, the doctors decided that her kidneys were so dysfunctional that she couldn't have a stent placed in her heart.
Bess was faced with two choices: the possibility of a third and fatal heart attack or permanent dialysis and permanently confined to hospital.
On January 3, 2007 she had the final heart attack that took her life. She was 74. Bess didn't have any heart problems before taking Celebrex--I have EKGs to verify that. She had trouble with her joints but her heart and kidneys were fine.
I don't think her rheumatologist (who prescribed Celebrex) was aware of the danger. I didn't talk to him, it has been too upsetting. It has been more than a year so now I can finally talk to someone about her death. I have every medical report by every physician.
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We had been together for 58 years. She was my date in junior and senior high school.
To anyone taking Celebrex: make sure you know the risk you are taking. Bess told me that she would rather suffer the pain of arthritis than be compromised by her life. I think the makers would be wise to spend some of the billions of dollars they made in sales to find a substitute that doesn't damage the heart and kidneys.
And maybe spend more money on research and less on marketing drugs such as Celebrex already on the market."