Little Evidence of Heart Risks From ADHD Meds

Posted on February 02, 2012
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But appropriate screening, monitoring recommended, researchers say

TUESDAY, Nov. 1 (HealthDay News) — Medications commonly used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder don’t appear to raise the risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems in children and young adults, new research shows.

And if any increased risk from stimulants such as Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta does exist, the danger in absolute numbers would be extremely low, said Dr. William O. Cooper, lead author of a study published online Nov. 1 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“This is the largest study to date, and I feel this provides reassuring information about risk,” said Cooper, a professor of pediatrics and preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.

Another expert agreed. “This is really good information because a few years ago when we had the notifications coming out telling us to use these drugs with some caution, we didn’t really have any good guidelines on which patients should avoid the drugs,” said Dr. John Pliska, assistant professor of pediatrics at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and chief of pediatric cardiology at Scott & White in Temple, Texas.

Almost 3 million children in the United States take prescription medications for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) each year. Children with the neurobehavioral disorder have excessive levels of activity, inattention and impulsiveness.

For the typical child diagnosed with the disorder, “if ADHD medications appear to be an important part of a treatment regimen, the worry about these cardiac risks should certainly be less,” Cooper continued. “Having said that, it’s really important that each child be evaluated by his or her health care provider to decide if it makes sense.”

Several years ago, a few reports of sudden death, heart attacks and stroke among users raised concern among parents and health care providers about the safety of these medications, which are prescribed to help children focus and manage their behavior.

Author: Amanda Gardner, HealthDay

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