ADHD Drug Heart Risks Not Seen in Study

  • Written by: Staff Writers

A federal study has found no link between attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drugs like Ritalin and heart problems among children and young adults. 

The findings of an FDA-funded study on ADHD drugs and cardiovascular risk was published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, about four years after the agency began expressing concerns over signs that there may be a link. However, U.S. researchers say that children taking the drugs suffer heart attacks, strokes and sudden death at about the same rate as children not taking the drugs.

Researchers conducted a retrospective cohort study with data from 1.2 million children and young adults between the ages of 2 and 24. The researchers compared current users of ADHD drugs to both children who were not taking any ADHD drugs and former users of ADHD drugs and found no correlation between cardiovascular events and whether someone used the medications.

ADHD medications are used by nearly 3.3 million American children under the age of 20. Some estimates have placed usage of ADHD drugs as high as 10% among 10 year old American boys, and many experts believe that the drugs are often prescribed to individuals for whom the benefits do not outweigh the risks associated with the medications.

For years, healthcare professionals have warned of a link between stimulant drugs meant to treat ADHD, such as Concerta, Adderal XR, and Ritalin, and heart problems like cardiac arrest.

Concerns increased following a 2009 study in the American Journal of Psychiatry that suggested there was a link between the side effects of Ritalin and other ADHD drugs and sudden cardiovascular problems. However, the study’s ultimate findings were inconclusive due to several limitations.

In 2007, mounting evidence led the FDA to require more stringent warning labels on the medications, highlighting the possible link between ADHD drugs and increased blood pressure, rapid heart rate, and risk of sudden death for those with cardiovascular problems.

Researchers involved with the new study said that there was a slim chance that there was a doubling of the risk of serious cardiovascular events, but the normal rate of incidence is so small that even doubling it resulted in an extremely low risk.

A similar study published earlier this year by University of Pennsylvania researchers in the medical journal Pediatrics came to the same conclusions.

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  1. heather Reply

    my son was 6 when he started taking adderal well that made him agressive then went to focalin that he had a reaction to then several others that made him agessive too… then finally we found one that worked for like 2 years CONCERTA and had i know he was going to pass out @ a wrestling tournament over this medication i would not have given it to him along with years of a strict on going diet … now my son refuses tro take any meds because he is scared he will die…. so if there is a lawsuit i want in… MY SON HAS THE RIGHT TO BE HEARD not to mention wheni paid out of pocket money i found out he didnt have half of what the dr diagnoised him as…

  2. nickd Reply

    This may be somewhat correct…. but the claims of hear problems and all that….it isnt physical…its mental…I suffer greatlyfrom severe anxietybecause of this drug…

  3. C K Reply

    54 years of age two stents, two previous heart attack,,history of heart disease in my family, Psychiatrist diagnosis high functioning bi-polar, prescribed adderall ? Four months after awsome physical, massive heart attack, one third of my heart dead, coded three times, 45 minutes cpr, psychiatrist also prescribed imitrex for headaches caused by the adderall all with no cardiologist approval.Also, intense memory loss . Sacramento area where do we turn? Note, after 9 days in the cardiac care unit my psyciatrist quit and left me with no counseling or after care. She called my wife and said she would arrive at the hospital in a half hour to see how i was doing, when the doc got to the hospital she went right to the hospital social worker and talked about her liabilities never looking in on me

    Additional information
    Note, The hospital cardiologist called my psychiatrist and brought her to tears after finding out she prescribed adderall and, the hospital cardio pulmonary specialist asked my wife in front of our children how long has you husband been taking METH!…PLEASE HELP! one more note. the psychiatrist also prescribed $800 worth of zomig three times a day for headaches caused by adderall. – edit

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