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ADHD Drugs Don't Raise Risk of Heart Problems: Study
Date:12/12/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Dec. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Young and middle-aged adults taking drugs for attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) do not seem to face an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, a new study finds.

There have been fears that these drugs can cause increases in heart rate and blood pressure, but this large, observational study found no evidence that these effects posed a risk, the researchers 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," said lead researcher Laurel Habel, from the division of research at Kaiser Permanente Northern California, in Oakland. "However, as with any study such as ours, there are limitations to the data and we cannot completely rule out a modestly elevated risk."

That's because the study relied on data gleaned from registries, so researchers can imply a conclusion but cannot prove it. Real proof would only come from a randomized trial of ADHD patients taking or not taking these drugs, who were then followed over time.

In 2006, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory committee meeting on the safety of ADHD medications noted that more than 1.5 million U.S. adults were taking these drugs in 2005 and adults get almost 32 percent of all prescriptions for these drugs.

The latest report was published in the Dec. 12 online edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

For the study, Habel's team collected data on more than 150,000 young and middle-age adults who were taking a methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta), an amphetamine (Adderall) or atomoxetine (Strattera) for ADHD.

The researcher compared these individuals to more than 434,000 people who were not taking these drugs.

Over the follow-up period, more than 1,300 had heart attacks,
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