Advanced Heart Screenings Recommended for ADHD Patients

May 17, 2008 09:33 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The American Heart Association, concerned about the risk of sudden cardiac death, recommends electrocardiograms before prescribing ADHD medications.

30-Second Summary

The American Heart Association wants doctors to give children electrocardiograms before prescribing drugs to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The association is concerned about detecting heart problems that could lead to sudden cardiac death. ADHD medications are stimulants that can raise a child’s blood pressure or heart rate. In a small group of children with heart problems, stimulants can raise the risk of SCD.

Nancy Shute at U.S. News and World Report says electrocardiograms may seem scary, but they are non-invasive, painless and inexpensive.

One psychiatrist says the American Heart Association’s recommendations are based on inconclusive data, and would add cost patients more money and lead to longer waits for treatment.

It is possible for children to have heart attacks, according to a case report published in the journal Pediatrics last year. That report found heart attacks in children who lacked traditional risk factors, such as a family history of heart problems, obesity and high blood pressure. That study did not mention Ritalin or other medications as a cause.

A teen’s death eight years ago led one doctor to worry about Ritalin and heart blockages, but he also said that the drug has been used for decades, and no such problem has been found.

Headline Links: Heart screenings recommended during ADHD treatment

Opinion: A necessary precaution?

Related: Sudden cardiac problems in children

Reference: ADHD Web Guide


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