ADHD Medications Don’t Cause Heart Problems for Adults

ADHD Medications for AdultsADHD medications are safe for adults hearts, according to a recent study. It’s been believed that using these drugs to help attention deficit hyperactivity disorder would increase the risk of a heart attack, stroke or sudden death. Researchers released the statement online on Monday for public health importance, but the print edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association’s will be available December 28, 2011 about the study of ADHD drugs.

Researchers reviewed health records from 440,000 adults aged 25 to 65 and found that those adults on ADHD drugs had no increased chance of heart attacks, strokes or sudden death related to the drugs compared to those not using the drugs.

Laurel A. Habel, Ph.D., a research scientist with Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Oakland, and one of the study’s authors said, “The results of our study do not support an increased risk of myocardial infarction, sudden cardiac death or stroke associated with use of ADHD medications in young and middle-aged adults. However, as with any study such as ours, there are limitations to the data and we cannot completely rule out a modestly elevated risk.” She added, “If you were given high doses of these medications versus low, would that make a difference? We didn’t have the ability to look at that.”

Habel then explained, “Because they can increase heart rate and blood pressure in children and adults, there have been concerns about the cardiovascular safety of stimulants and other medications used primarily to treat ADHD. Relatively few large safety studies have been conducted, especially in adults. Our findings indicate that these medications do not markedly increase the risk of serious cardiovascular events in young and middle-aged adults.”

In the United States, some 2.7 million children and more than 1.5 million adults have have prescriptions for ADHD drugs including Novartis’ Ritalin or methylphenidate and Focalin; Johnson & Johnson’s Concerta, Shire’s Adderall and Vyvanse and Eli Lilly’s Strattera.

Dr. Andrew Adesman of Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, who was not involved with the study, said in a statement, “Since adults are more likely to have underlying cardiovascular problems than children, it is especially reassuring to learn that FDA-approved medications for ADHD do not likely pose any additional cardiovascular risk in adults with ADHD. Although the investigators of this study acknowledge that the data they analyzed were not perfect, it is improbable that there will be significant differences noted in subsequent studies.”

Millions of children and adults in the U.S. take drugs such as Adderall, Concerta, Metadate, Methylin, Ritalin, or Strattera to treat ADHD symptoms such as hyperactivity, impulse control, and trouble focusing.

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