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

s concerning 12 reported deaths among American children taking ADHD drugs.

Vetter pointed out that the Canadian decision was based on an assessment of collected data based on family self-reports (sometimes in the absence of autopsy records), rather than a complete scientific analysis.

"But the reality is that we were faced with some kids who had ADHD who suddenly died," she said. "And a lot of them were exercising at the time, which is when most of the kids who have electrical malfunctions of the heart would have a sudden cardiac death. So we have to assume they experienced a cardiac death."

In February 2007, the FDA ordered makers of ADHD medications to develop guidelines that alert patients to the heart risks associated with their treatments.

"But it's not that these are dangerous medicines," stressed Vetter. "But by adding the ECG, and by being aware of possible heart disease, and monitoring the kids once you prescribe the medications, one can go ahead and treat the ADHD. And these kids can be very happy."

Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Schneider Children's Hospital in New Hyde Park, N.Y., agreed that the point of expanded screenings is identify a child's underlying heart complication, not to look for problems with the stimulants themselves.

"Serious cardiac complications from stimulant medications are very rare," Adesman said. "But because there are concerns on the part of parents and some physicians, routine ECG screenings will provide greater reassurance for the vast majority of patients for whom ADHD medications are being considered."

More information

For more on ADHD treatments, visit the National Institute of Mental Health.



SOURCES: Victoria L. Vetter, M.D., head, American Heart As
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