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Sibutramine-associated adverse effects: a practical guide for its safe use


Professor MS Elisaf, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical School, University of Ioannina, Ioannina 45110, Greece. E-mail:


Obesity is a multifactorial chronic disorder which comprises a serious health problem nowadays. The effective management of obesity is difficult in contemporary societies where abundance of hypercaloric food and sedentary lifestyle is the rule. Apart from lifestyle interventions, which include diet, exercise and behavioural treatment, weight-loss medications can also be used for the management of obesity. Sibutramine, a selective monoamine reuptake inhibitor, is a drug with established efficacy in sustained weight reduction and an overall favourable safety profile. However, its action on the sympathetic nervous system has linked sibutramine to blood pressure and heart rate elevations. These potentially adverse effects as well as other sibutramine-associated side effects and their possible underlying mechanisms are reviewed in the present article. Compelling evidence from the majority of data in the literature shows that sibutramine can be effectively used in conjunction with caloric restriction and exercise in obese patients. Hypertension, if adequately treated and frequently monitored, is not an absolute contraindication for the prescription of sibutramine.