Side Effects of Daytrana, Concerta, Similar ADHD Drugs May Increase Risk of Heart Problems: Study

Researchers found a significantly increased risk of heart problems linked to ADHD drugs, but say the risks are not high enough to recommend avoiding use of the medications.

According to the findings of a new study, side effects of widely used attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drugs, such as Daytrana, Concerta Ritalin and others, may increase the risk of suffering from heart problems like heart failure.

People taking methylphenidate stimulants for ADHD face a 10% increased risk of having abnormal heart rhythms, heart disease, serious blood clots, and heart failure, according to findings published on March 6 in the journal JAMA Network Open.

The class of medications includes many popular ADHD drugs, which are also considered stimulants and sometimes used to treat narcolepsy.

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In this latest study, researchers from Sweden looked at National Swedish Registry data on more than 252,000 individuals with ADHD ages 12 to 60 years old from 2007 to 2012. Data from one year before patients began taking Daytrana or Concerta were compared with data from six months after treatment.

The researchers determined that rates of cardiovascular events were higher in the ADHD drug group compared to the control group. These problems included ischemic heart disease; venous thromboembolism, heart failure, and tachyarrhythmias or abnormal heart rhythms.

According to the data, patients taking Daytrana and similar drugs had an 87% higher probability of having a cardiovascular event after using one of the ADHD medications.

The researchers also discovered a 70% increased probability that patients taking ADHD drugs had at least a 10% increased risk of suffering a cardiovascular event, such as heart failure, blood clots, or other events.

The rate of heart events was 1.51 per 100,000 patients in the ADHD medication group compared to 0.77 per 100,000 patients in the control group. However, researchers determined that the risks were not high enough to recommend avoiding use of the drugs.

“The findings of this study suggest that the small cardiovascular risk associated with short-term methylphenidate use should not be a reason to withhold treatment but suggest the need for individualized risk-benefit assessment and risk monitoring,” the researchers concluded.

Instead, the researchers recommend doctors have a focused conversation discussing the benefits and risks of using the drugs, as that may be different depending on whether the patients have a higher risk of suffering from heart problems based on their medical history and family history.

ADHD Drug Risks

Prior research indicates long-term use of ADHD medications lead to a 23% increased risk of suffering from heart disease, compared to those who have never used ADHD medications.

Other studies have warned that using ADHD drugs like Daytrana or Concerta during pregnancy can increase the risk of congenital heart defects in the infant by up to 30%.

Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning calling for Boxed Warning labels for ADHD medications, indicating the drugs pose a significant risk of misuse, abuse, and addiction.

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