ADHD drugs not bad for the heart: Study

May 31, 2017

Results showed that there were 1,357 heart attacks, 296 cases of sudden cardiac death, and 575 cases of stroke among all patients. The rate was similar among users and nonusers of ADHD drugs, which suggests the drugs didn't increase risk of developing serious cardiovascular problems.

The earlier study, by the same research team, reached a similar conclusion among patients 2 to 24 years old. Even under their worst-case scenario conditions, the risk was tiny. As an editorial accompanying the study put it, there was only one additional case of a heart attack, stroke or sudden cardiac death for every 5,900 person-years of treatment.

???Even though we can't rule out increased risk,??? said William Cooper, a pediatrician at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn., and lead author of the earlier paper, ???the absolute magnitude would be low because the [serious] events are so rare.???

The FDA said Monday that patients treated with ADHD medications should continue to be monitored for changes in heart rate or blood pressure as well as for other side effects that include decreased appetite, weight loss and trouble sleeping. The agency also said the drugs ???should not be used by patients with serious heart problems, or for whom an increase in blood pressure or heart rate would be problematic.???

Mason Turner, regional director of mental health outpatient operations for Kaiser Permanente Northern California, said that with low doses, careful monitoring of blood pressure and other measures, and consultation with a cardiologist, even patients with heart risk who also have significant ADHD symptoms can be effectively treated with the medicines.

American Heart Association past-President Robert Bonow, a professor of medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, says the two studies were well designed and well executed and he agrees that the findings are reassuring. ???There has been something of a dark cloud over these drugs with regard to their impact on the heart,??? he says. ???These findings should put many of these fears to rest, but it is still important to know an individual patient??ôs risk. Patients with heart disease and those who have a high risk for heart disease need to be monitored if they take these drugs.???

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