Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Study Shows No Link Between ADHD Medications and Cardiac Problems

A report in the November 1 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine included the results of a large study designed to clarify whether ADHD medications are associated with an increased risk of serious cardiac problems (the study was not designed to monitor minor side effects -- only significant heart complications). The authors sought to quantify the risks which these medications may pose for the 2.7 million children for whom they are prescribed each year. In particular, they wanted to determine if previous anecdotal reports of negative cardiac events were supported by a review of the data from a large number of patients.

The study did not find any association between ADHD medications and serious cardiac problems.

The researchers reviewed data compiled over the course of at least three years from four geographically diverse health plans (Tennessee Medicaid, Washington State Medicaid, Kaiser Permanente California, and OptumInsight Epidemiology) with more than 1.2 million members between 2 and 24 years of age.

While this is only one study, it is reassuring and is consistent with other studies and clinical experience indicating that these medications are safe and effective when clinically indicated, provided in appropriate dosages, and monitored for possible side effects. It is also important to bear in mind that medication decisions need to be individualized, must involve ongoing communication between parent, patient, and physician, and are only one part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

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