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Cardiac Screening Recommended for Kids Taking Stimulants for ADHD
Date:4/21/2008

American Heart Association issues new guidelines in response to growing concerns about heart complications

MONDAY, April 21 (HealthDay News) -- The American Heart Association on Monday issued recommendations that call for cardiovascular screening before prescribing stimulant treatment for all children diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The guidelines are meant to address mounting fears that these medications can raise the risk for cardiac complications among those with underlying heart disease.

"This is new, and it is a shift in our policy," said Dr. Victoria L. Vetter, head of the association's statement writing committee, and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

"But we're not recommending that every child in the country have these heart screenings, rather that they be used as a reasonable tool for this small, particular group of children about to take ADHD medications, so we can ensure the treatment proceeds as safely as possible," she added.

The recommendations were published online Monday in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association (AHA).

They include: the taking of a detailed patient and family medical history, particularly regarding heart disease; a full physical exam, including blood pressure and heart beat monitoring; an electrocardiogram (ECG); and a pediatric cardiologist consultation prior to treatment if evidence of heart disease is uncovered.

After treatment begins, the AHA said that children should continue to have blood pressure check-ups once every one to three months, as well as routine health check-ups every six to twelve months.

The AHA noted that ADHD is the most common neurobehavioral disorder among American kids, with estimates indicating that between 4 percent and 12 percent of American school-aged children have the condition.

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