Cardiovascular Risks of ADHD Medications Largely Unfounded?
A retrospective study is conducted in a group of more than a million children and adults, studying their medical records from 1986 to 2005 with combined 373,667 person-years of current use of ADHD drugs. The ADHD drugs involved include methylphenidate, dexmethylphenidate, dextroamphetamines, amphetamine salts, atomoxetine and pemoline. They were also analyzed for frequency of serious cardiovascular events.
In total, the study group suffered from only 81 cardiovascular events. It seems to say that current users do not suffer from increased risk as compared to former users. And it is found that people who use Ritalin (the most frequently used ADHD drug) also do not suffer from increased cardiac risk.
The study verifies a recent, large observational study just published in May 2011 issue of Pediatrics. However, that study is funded by Shire – a manufacturer of ADHD drugs, which put a hint of potential bias.
Periodic heart monitoring still needed
However, researchers stressed that patients on ADHD medications still need to be periodically monitored for changes in heart rate and blood pressure. In addition, they said that while the results are good, that’s because the study group is composed mostly of young people. Still, the absolute magnitude of increasing risk to both young and old people is still very low.
To objectively know its impact to older people, the FDA is co-sponsoring another similar study which will focus on adults only. Still, many medical associations welcomed the results because of the large numbers of participants involved. The study is also helpful for practitioners in establishing guidelines for ADHD. It also helps parents to understand that ADHD is a significant disorder that needs to be treated.Around 2.7 million American children are prescribed with ADHD medications each year.
The study is available online on the November issue of New England Journal of Medicine.
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