Celexa Side Effects Linked to Serious Heart Problems at High Doses: FDA

  • Written by: Staff Writers

High doses of the antidepressant Celexa can cause abnormal heart rhythms, leading federal regulators to issue a new warning that Celexa should no longer be prescribed at doses that exceed 40 mg per day.

According to a drug safety communication issued by the FDA on Wednesday, Celexa side effects can cause prolongation of QT intervals, interrupting the regular electrical activity of the heart. This may lead to a serious and potentially fatal abnormal heart rhythm, including Torsade de Pointes.

Celexa (citalopram hydrobromide) belongs to a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It was originally created in 1989 by Lundbeck, and is approved for the treatment of major depression. However, it is often used off-label to treat other psychological disorders. Celexa is available in brand name form or as a generic in 10 mg, 20 mg and 40 mg tablets, as well as a 10 mg/5 mL oral solution.

Patients with low potassium and magnesium are at increased risk of the serious heart problems from Celexa, the FDA warned. The agency also noted that data suggests doses above 40 mg per day do not provided any increased benefit for patients.

Celexa warnings will now include information about the potential heart rhythm risks, as well as the new dosage recommendations. The FDA did not provide any information about reports of serious illnesses or deaths associated with the Celexa heart problems.

Patients have been advised to talk to their health care provider if they have been prescribed a daily dose of Celexa exceeding 40 mg. They were also warned to seek immediate medical attention if they experience irregular heartbeats, shortness of breath, dizziness or fainting while taking Celexa.

Doctors were warned not to prescribe Celexa above 40 mg per day and not to use it at all in patients with congenital long QT syndrome. The agency also called on doctors to give patients taking Celexa more frequent electrocardiogram monitoring.

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  1. Phyllis Reply

    I have been on celexa since 1999. One year after I started taking celexa, which I am still on almost 13 years later, my heart went into Afib.

  2. KYLE Reply


  3. laurile Reply

    i have been on celxa for 10 yrs and i recently had to have a pace maker put in . iam only 51 yrs old .

  4. larry Reply

    I started taking citalopram dec 2004. Aug 30 2005 I had to have a pacemaker-defibrillator implanted.

  5. cindy Reply

    I have been on Celexa for a long time…I have had irregular heart beats and have ended up in the hospital twice ( I had 2 angiograms performed and last year had a heart ablation done….

  6. Skip Reply

    I was on citalopram for about 5 years, had an opthamalmic nerve stroke and had to have a cardiac ablation due to PSVT that caused multiple syncopal episodes.

  7. Dthompson Reply

    I have been on Celexa (citalopram) for 11 yrs. minus 18mths for 2 pregnancies. Last year 2010 I started having irregular heart beats. I have been to the doctor three times and he has basically said I need to lose weight. Some days it is so bad it is every 50-55 beats and then another irregular heart beat.

  8. Patti Reply

    My husband has taken 80mgs citalopram for 2 1/2 yrs and last week the VA called him wanting to do an EKG. First they told hgim the EKG was ok and then today they called and said his heart was beating to slow and now they are sending him to a cardiologist. Before he started taking the citalopram he was on medication because his heart beat to fast of course about 1 yr ago the VA GP took him off that med. I guess it was the citalopram at work on his heart then.

  9. rebecca Reply

    this worries me…. I been taking 60mg a day for almost 2 years now and as of about 8 or 9 months ago I have been problems with dizziness and shortness of breath. I have been back and forth to the dr and they just keep tryin new things to try and get rid of dizziness and shortness of breath……tried everything except stopping the celexa…I am only 28 years old.

  10. john Reply

    I have been on celexa for several years with the highest dosage at 60 mg daily. Perhaps as high as 80 mgs. They keep changing the dosage. After the August 2011 article re: irregular heart rhythms I was reduced to 20 mg daily. Shortly thereafter I developed AFib and am now on coumadin and cardizem. Prior to this I had had several cardiac workups but they were all negative.

  11. bob Reply

    I am not worried so much about the hear problem as much as how decreasing this drug will effect it use. maybe decrease will bring back your symptoms you had of depression ect.

  12. Helen Reply

    sometimes I have shortness of breath and my voice changes to very low, wonder if this medication is doing this and my quack Dr. still prescribes this medication for me , Lucky for me that I just saw this today on-line . I will have to contact my quack Dr. to tell him about this recall when he should be calling me to to tell me about the recall !!!!!!!!

  13. chris Reply

    I have been taking celexa 40 mgs twice a day. I have had two ekg’s and an echocardiogram and I has abnormal heart rhtyems. Please contact me. 609-218-0700

  14. George Reply

    I took one dose of Celexa (20 mg) once and within 20-30 minutes immediately became very ill, with an rapid, irregular heartbeat. I took myself off of it after this first dose. I tried it again 3 months later (after convincing myself that maybe it was my imagination the first time) and experienced even worse heartbeat issues. I was admitted to the hospital with a heart rate of 170 b/m. The doctors thought I was on methamphetamine- not Celexa. I was released and ended up in the hospital again 1 week later- still with an elevated heart rate and a whole slew of other issues. The ER doctor told me to stop immediately and I did. Within 24 hours I was back to normal. Be careful with this stuff.

  15. Mike Reply

    This is in regards to my 75 year old mother. She was prescribed 10mg daily ESCitalopram on december 9th, 2011. She had no intent to begin this antidepressant, but was convinced by the doctor that she saw, that she should ‘try it’. She took one dose the next day, developed chest and shoulder pain, and was dead as a result of ventricualr arrythmia 2 hours later. The ER report clearly states ‘Torsades de Pointes’, yet the report states she died of miocardial infarction (clogged arteries). Yet, her blood pressure was normal, never smoked, drank, and to top it all off, her blood Troponin levels were normal (high levels indicative of miocardial infarction). Not one person in the medical community will even admit that cipralex (escitalopram) caused this – she was 75 years old, after all. Law offices do not want to take on the case unless they can be guaranteed they can make money. My mother, nor I, were made aware of the risks of this medication, and knowing my mother, she would never have touched it, had she been made aware. The internet is littered with warnings wrt citalopram and its effect on the QT interval of the heart. The medication she received was manufactured by Lundbeck Canada. This is an international epidemic. I found out 2 weeks ago, a cousin of mine in Germany is receiving 150mg a day of citalopram (> 3x the allowable limit)! Another acquaintance of mine in Canada showed me that her 70 year old brother was receiving 70mg a day citalopram (3x the allowable limit)- this in march 2012. These are all major overdoses, and it appears it is business as usual with the medical community, despite the news releases regarding the reduced allowable doses recommended by Lundbeck.
    Is anyone aware of a lawfirm that is willing to go against Lundbeck? I don’t care if they are not located in Canada. I’d be interested in any class action as well. I’d like to post this case elsewhere, if there are links to other sites that pertain to the dangers of SSRIs, in particular citalopram / escitalopram.
    I’m on a warpath and it will not end until justice and accountability are achieved.

  16. Patrick Reply

    I have been on Citalopram for about 2 years ,from The VA.The last EKG showed That I now have A-FIB .I have never before had this problem and I do not have high blood pressure problems.They told me that it was not from the citalopram?????I have since been given drugs for heart rate control and blood thinner???

  17. Valerie Reply

    I was put on citalopram in Feb, 2012. By March and April I had headacks so bad thay mimicked a stroke. This went on for a whole month.I was on 40mg. My cardeoligest told me it mit be the citalopram so I cut the dose to 20 mg. By May 12, 2012 I was In the hospital with dying tissue at the bottem of my heart and escemea forming on the top. I had exesting heart probles before I was put on this drug and I never should have been put on it in the first place.

  18. Laura Reply

    I was on Celexa for only about 1 1/2 months at the lowest dose. I had the worst side effects. Head tingles, headaches, nausea and extreme dizziness. I couldn’t take it anymore and stopped. The side effects lasted for almost another month and a half, they were like I was still taking it. They finally, mostly went away, but at least a couple times a week one of them would come back. Beginning of Oct I started getting dizzy, didn’t think about it. Kept trying different thing at home, eating more often, drinking even more water, but it was getting worse. Went to the clinic about the 9th of Nov. Blood pressure VERY high. I am now on two meds for it and I finally have a lower level. The medic I went to at the fire station this weekend even said that my heart beat would skip. This is totally new. Always had normal heartbeat. Just started thinking that it might be the Celexa since I had such a hard time on it.

  19. Mike Reply

    I had been taking celexa for 15 years and believe it was the cause of my SCD. They worked on me in the field for approximately
    15min., and at the hospital for 45 min. more. The
    prognosis was bleak at best. The Dr. was actually
    ready to call it when he noticed a faint heartbeat, an I
    was transferred to ICU, and for the next 3 days I was
    having seizures. They tried to take me off of the
    ventilator, and I just wasn’t ready. At this point they
    weren’t sure what kind of condition I would be in if I
    did wake up. The next day(June6th) the Dr.’s told my
    wife to prepare for the worst. They let alot of people
    in to visit with me that day, and to say goodbye, but .
    The Dr.’s were amazed at my outcome.. On June 8th I
    was moved from ICU to a reg. room. They said i had
    Sudden Cardiac Death Syndrome, and needed an
    ICD(defibrillator). On the 9th they did a heart cath,
    and determined that I didn’t have blocked arteries,
    and actually other than the life threatening electrical
    problem my heart is as healthy as a twenty-
    something’s……..They implanted my device on the
    10th, and on the 11th I got to go home.

  20. regina Reply

    i was on celexa for ssri abilities. I had bad anxiety at my pharmacy tech school. I have been on it for 8 months. I have a high endurance level. took a month off because I had tendonidous in my hip. I couldn’t get my endurance back. wow. its the celexa. I also get sob really really bad even my brother made fun of me lol. and I get angina often. I am getting off this drug the VA gave me an ekg and levels in my heart are very high that aren’t supposed to be. wow pull this off the market already!

  21. Terri Reply

    Is there a class action lawsuit against Celexa? I was taking this drug and I had Atrial Flutter in April 2013 and Atrial Fibrillation in June 2013. My Dr. said there were heart issues due to Celexa and put me on a different drug. I have a 13 year old son I want to be around for. If there is a class action lawsuit, I would like to be a part of it.

  22. Nikki Reply

    I have been on celexa 20 mg for 6 years for ANXIETY. A couple days ago I woke up out of my sleep and my heart was racing. My heart rate is usually in the 50’s at night. It was 173 while I was just laying down. After 10 minutes I could not get it to come down so my mom took me to the er. They said that they were diagnosing me with SVT (supra ventricular tachycardia) probably caused by an arrhythmia. Since coming home from the er I have noticed my heart rate gets really high after I eat (130-140) and stays elevated for 4-5 hours. I am not sure if it is the celexa causing this but I have always felt heart palpitations while on this medicine. Now I am afraid to take it. If it is causing my heart issues should I completely quit the 20mg cold turkey or wean off of it? I also just quit my birth control about a week before all of this started so maybe it is from that. I don’t know what to think any more.

  23. Kbud Reply

    I was on Cipralex (the Canadian form of Celexa) for about a year. I now have atrial fibrillation. I am only 39 and have no family background of heart irregularities. I’m not impressed, for had I known that this was a posssiblr side-effect, I would have asked to be taken off of it IMMEDIATELY the second I started feeling the effects of atrial fib before I developed a full blown case that I will have and suffer from for the rest of my life.

  24. Kristi Reply

    I have been on celexa for over a year maybe 2 . Never had any heart problems until recently within the last year my heart goes from 80 to 116 or 125 even if I’m sitting around doing nothing . I take 40 MG and I decided to look up why my heart does this ,today I was grocery shopping my girlfriend had a heart rate of 86 and mine was 107, I’m very happy to see it might just be the celexa I am making an appointment tomorrow to see the doctor. This is scary…

  25. Jo Reply

    I’ve recently quit taking celexa 40 mgs/day for 11 years. I did a slow taper and have been completely off for a month. My heart rate is still all over the place and the beats are so strong, it’s distracting. When I decided to quit with them, I was not even aware of the cardiac issues. I quit because my brain function became increasingly impaired with time. I honestly thought I had early-onset alzhiemers. I don’t, it was the celexa. I am so thankful I got off this poison. At least I have my mental faculties back and I am hoping I don’t end up with some serious heart problems. No more new, unproven wonder drugs for me.

  26. Brandon Reply

    My brother was autistic. His prescriber (psychiatric nurse practitioner) has him on 80 mgs of Celexa. He had no heart problems ever. He went to a home later that year. They took him off of it, I believe. The damage was already done. It was noted he was seeing a cardiologist often. Anyways, one morning, he just collapsed and died. He was only 29. I didn’t put two and two together for a while. No autopsy done, due to his heart issues. Death certificate state cardiac arrhythmia. He was cremated, so nothing I can do now. I just wanted to leave this comment.

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