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Pediatricians Split on Heart Tests Before Kids' ADHD Meds
Date:1/16/2012

ted with ADHD medications. In a study published last November in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers concluded that medications such as Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta don't raise the risk of sudden death, heart attack or stroke in children and young adults.

In the study, researchers from Vanderbilt University and colleagues analyzed data on 1.2 million children and young adults aged 2 to 24 enrolled in four large health plans around the United States.

And a study published last December in the Journal of the American Medical Association analyzed data on more than 150,000 young and middle-aged adults taking one of several ADHD drugs and found no added risk of heart attack, sudden cardiac death or stroke, even among people with a family history of heart disease.

"The recent data suggests there is no increase in sudden cardiac death or any need for cardiac monitoring, provided there is no history of heart disease in the patient and no family history of heart disease," said Dr. Victor Fornari, a professor of psychiatry at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine, in New York.

The current research, published in the February issue of Pediatrics, surveyed 525 U.S. pediatricians about their ADHD prescribing practices.

The vast majority of physicians said they did a routine medical history and physical before putting kids on stimulants to treat ADHD.

Less than half (48 percent) did a more in-depth cardiac history and physical, which is recommended by the AAP.

About 15 percent also ordered an EKG to look for abnormal heart rhythms. The most common reason for continuing to do EKGs was that it was the "prevailing practice" where they worked.

"Pediatricians have a very variable attitude toward the safety and efficacy of these medications," Fornari said. "Even though there is no evidence base to suggest continued cardiac screening, there persists this lingering attitude among physicians that
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