Hold the Hyper, Keep the Heart

Attention deficit disorder medicine not correlated with heart disease

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) frequently read warnings on their medication bottles instructing them to avoid usage if they have structural heart problems or another pre-existing heart condition.

Has this warning now been proven baseless?

According to a recent study done at Vanderbilt University, the medicine used to treat ADHD does not increase the risk of heart disease in patients aged two to twenty-four.

"Discuss which ADHD medication is best for your child."

The FDA financially supported Vanderbilt's research, as did the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Over 1 million patients records were tracked from years 2005 to 2008 on drugs Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin, and Strattera. The records of the ADHD patients were compared against individuals not on the medication.

Over the seven year study period, 81 cases of serious heart problems were detected, which works out to three per 100,000 patients on the medications. The results showed that there was essentially no difference in risk between people taking the medications and those who didn't.

This information comes as much of a surprise, as it was just three years ago that the American Heart Association reviewed FDA information to conclude it to be reasonable for pediatricians to obtain an electrocardiogram before prescribing these medications to patients.  

The lead author on the study was Vanderbilt pediatrician Dr. William Cooper.  Although the study confirmed no linkage between ADHD drugs and heart disease, Dr. Cooper can still remember the AHA's concerns, urging parents to err on the side of caution.  "Each child is unique, so families need to work together to make informed decisions," Cooper states.  

The doctor goes one step further to warn: "This is especially true for children who have any chronic health conditions or special needs."

ADHD is the most common neurobehavioral disorder in childhood affecting thousands of patients with existing medical conditions. It is extremely important to speak with your pediatrician regarding the unique nature of your child's health in order to determine the right course of action to pursue.

And to conclude: warning labels do hold medical and professional foundation. 

The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 9, 2011
Last Updated:
October 4, 2012