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Kids Taking ADHD Drugs at Low Risk for Heart Problems: Study
Date:5/16/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, May 16 (HealthDay News) -- Children taking drugs to control attention deficit hyperactivity disorder appear to be at no greater risk for heart problems than kids not taking ADHD medications, a new study finds.

"ADHD medications can increase heart rate and blood pressure, which might be expected to increase the risk of cardiovascular outcomes," said lead researcher Sean Hennessy, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

But this study, comparing ADHD medication users with non-users, found no difference in the rate of heart problems or deaths between the groups, Hennessy said.

The findings should reassure parents that drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall aren't associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events, Hennessy said. However, the study may not put to rest all fears, one expert said.

Dr. Steven Lipshultz, professor and chair of pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, doesn't believe this study has settled the debate because it fails to take into account children with existing heart problems.

"This in no way says that in children with underlying heart disease the drugs are safe or not safe," he said.

Because of concerns that ADHD medications could increase the risk of heart problems, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2007 directed manufacturers of ADHD drugs to produce a medication guide that would alert doctors and parents and patients to this risk.

Hennessy said there have been some anecdotal reports of death, heart attack and stroke among children taking ADHD drugs. "However, given the millions of children using these medications, it is not surprising that some events would be reported," he said.

In the new study, "there were no validated cases of heart attack or stroke in children using ADHD medications," he said. "There
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