Attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity (ADHD) are unarguably one of our countries most important medical diagnoses, affective millions of children and adults. Over 2.5 million of youth ages 4-17 take some type of medication for ADHD. Previously, people have worried that ADHD drugs have potential negative side effects on the heart, but new research may prove that elevated heart risks do not have meaningful adverse clinical effects with the drugs.
A study done by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and co-authors from HealthCore Inc. showed that children/teens who ADHD medicines are not at any higher risk for heart problems then children/teens who don’t use the medicines. The researchers even went on to say that if the medicine is having positive effects on the child, that the benefit of the drug on the child outweighs any uncertain risks.
The study looked at over 241,000 patients from 5 states (California, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio) and from a HealthCore Research Database. The patients were ages 3-17 and on ADHD medications. They then compared patients who take ADHD medications with those who don’t, and looked specifically at heart attack, sudden death and stroke. Of the children/teens that were on ADHD medicine, only 28 had died but of the children/teens who weren’t on medicine, 607 had died. No relationship existed between being on the drug and having an adverse outcome.
This study does not rule out a rare adverse affect, but it should reassure most parents that ADHD medications can safely benefit youth without raising heart risks to dangerous levels.