"I had a pre-existing heart condition and had open heart surgery in 2003 but I was on the mend, and I have the test results to prove it," she says. "But a year later I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome so my doctor prescribed Zelnorm. It worked, it was great, but I couldn't afford to take it constantly for months at a time so I would buy one month's worth then go without it for awhile.
I was feeling better from my surgery so I was becoming more active and I was going to take an insurance investment course, but I felt really run down, my legs and my feet were so swollen they looked like elephant legs and I had difficulty breathing. I couldn't lie down flat at night because of my breathing and continual coughing. All this happened while I was taking Zelnorm.
I went back to the doctor and he was alarmed because of these symptoms. And my legs had pitting edema - when you push in your skin, it doesn't come back again It meant that I had too much fluid in my system. He also told me that I had congestive heart failure Then the doctor checked my lungs and they were full of fluid. I went on diuretics and extra heart meds and made an appointment with my cardiologist.
By the time I saw the cardiologist, my symptoms had calmed down and there was no congestion in my lungs. During this time I stopped taking Zelnorm, and surprisingly enough, all these symptoms just disappeared, without taking any other meds.
The pharmacist from Cosco phoned me about a month ago and asked if I had any leftover Zelnorm -- he said the drug had been recalled. That was the first time I had heard about it. I asked my doctor if Zelnorm could have caused all these symptoms. He looked back in my files and said 'that would explain everything.' He was just as baffled as I was.
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I am so surprised that a drug to help your bowel can damage your heart. The drug makers should test these drugs more. When I looked up Zelnorm on the Internet, it said that people most affected had pre-existing heart conditions. Why was I prescribed this drug in the first place? I don't blame my doctor -- he didn't even know."
On March 30, 2007, Novartis complied with Health Canada and suspended Canadian marketing and sales of Zelnorm. Jacquie is going to contact her pharmacist and get a copy of her prescription. And her medical records.