ADHD Drugs Pose No Risk For Cardiac Events
Attention- deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental disorder that especially affects children of both sexes but it is more commonly seen in boys. According to the name of the disease, its main symptoms are: inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Medications used to treat ADHD act on hyperactivity, thus contributing to an increased attention and motivation.
Among the drugs that are used to treat ADHD methylphenidate, dexmethylphenidate, dextroamphetamines, amphetamine salts, atomoxetine or pemoline, some were suspected of increasing the risk for cardiovascular events like stroke, acute myocardial infarction or sudden cardiac death. That was a real problem for the families of those children who had to decide whether their kids should take those drugs or not.
Cardiac events were commonly reported and in 2008 the American Heart Association recommended performing an electocardiography before prescribing ADHD medication.
In the study led by Cooper W.O and sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), data from over one million people aged 2-24 years was collected, patients being followed on average 2.1 years.
After detailed analysis, only 81 cardiac events were discovered and by comparing the study group to the control group ( drug users vs. nonusers), there were no significant differences ( including those who were taken methylphenidate, as it is the most prescribed ADHD drug). This study confirms the results of a previous study published in may 2011.
In addition to this, Dr. Lenard A.A., former president of American Professional Society of ADHD and Related Disorders (APSARD) said: “Overall, I think clinicians should tell families that ADHD is a significant disorder that needs to be treated. And there needs to be a discussion of the potential risks and benefits of all medications considered, especially when treating children”.
Generally, stimulants can increase the heart rate and the blood pressure and children should be screened for a heart condition before taking any stimulants. Although this study showed that the prevalence of cardiac events in users of stimulants did not differ significantly from control subjects, probably they should be monitored more prudently for cardiovascular events because we are talking about the lives of children and adolescents, as confirmed by a FDA spokesman who stated that “A small to modest increase in risk cannot be excluded”
Healthcare professionals should take care when it comes to stimulant products. Atomoxetine as a general rule should not be used in patients with serious heart problems, or for whom an increase in blood pressure or heart rate would be problematic.