Diane was prescribed Vioxx for arthritis in 1999. It was giving her some relief but two years later, at the age of 45, she had her first heart attack.
"I was at the bowling alley with my husband and felt really uncomfortable; I had pain in my left leg and left arm and then I got severe chest pains. Apparently I was incoherent and couldn't tell what was going on. My husband called 911 and an ambulance came right away. Luckily we were at the Keesler Air Force Base (where my husband works) and the medical center was only five minutes away. I had a whole bunch of tests in emergency and they kept me overnight in the cardiac unit. It scared the hell out of me. I phoned my folks in Connecticut to wish them a Happy Anniversary but when they found out what happened, there wasn't much cause to celebrate. They wanted to jump on the first plane and come down here.
"I was taking Vioxx right up until my first heart attack. As soon as I got home from the hospital, I called my doctor and he told me not to take any more Vioxx. I still had two refills left. Then I heard about how Vioxx could cause heart attacks; it was on the television and I also did a lot of research on the Internet. There is so much information out there now, too bad I didn't know about how dangerous Vioxx was in 1999.
"I started seeing a cardiologist and he said my heart was permanently damaged and I had to be really careful about any drugs I would take in the future. I had two more heart attacks - in 2003 and 2005 - and the last one almost killed me. My doctor told me that Vioxx was to blame. I think the drug manufacturers should have labeled their products more clearly, listing all the side effects. I don't remember reading anything adverse on their boxes.
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"Sometimes I can't even go outside, especially when it is hot like today. The doctor says I am doing okay so far and I don't have to see the cardiologist until next year, as long as I avoid stress. That's easier said than done with two young kids running around.
"Having a heart condition changed my life. I have to be aware of my limitations all the time. The people at Merck should have said on their box 'Side effects could be fatal.' People are dying from taking Vioxx."
On September 30, 2004 Merck announced the voluntarily worldwide withdrawal of Vioxx®.