ADHD drugs don't cause heart attack

A major study of more than one million children and young adults has shown no higher risk of heart attack among those who take drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to a US study.

"This large study showed no evidence that current use of an ADHD drug was associated with an increased risk of serious cardiovascular events," said the study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Experts said that the study, the largest of its kind to date, should put to rest concerns that were raised several years ago in the US and Canada about the potential cardiac risks of giving young people stimulant medications like Ritalin.

A total of 1.2 million people from the age of two to 24 were included in the research, led by William Cooper of the paediatrics and preventive medicine departments at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Additional reassurance

The analysis included children with congenital heart disease, a group presumed to be at higher risk of heart attack or stroke.

Still, researchers were still unable to find any higher risk compared to children who did not take ADHD meds.

According to Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioural paediatrics at Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Centre of New York, the data are overall quite reassuring and in line with previous, smaller studies.

"This new study has once again failed to find an association between treatment with stimulant medication and sudden cardiac death, myocardial infarction, or stroke," said Adesman, who was not involved in the study.

The findings should provide additional reassurance to families and clinical practitioners, he said.

(Sapa, November 2011) 

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