ADHD medications don't increase serious heart risks in children or adults

Research Activities, January 2012, No. 377

Medications used to treat attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are not linked to increased risk of heart attack or other serious cardiovascular problems in children or adults, according to two studies from the Effective Health Care Program of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

The first study, published November 1 in the New England Journal of Medicine, reported no evidence of increased risk of serious cardiovascular effects among children and young people who use ADHD medications. The study used data from more than 1.2 million children and young adults from ages 2 to 24.

The second study, published December 8 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found medications used to treat ADHD in adults are not linked to increased risk of heart attack, sudden cardiac death, or stroke. The study of adults ages 25 to 64 included more than 150,000 users and nearly 300,000 non-users of ADHD medications. Researchers found no evidence of an increased risk of serious cardiac outcomes associated with current use compared to non-use or former use of ADHD medications. Researchers also found little support for an increased risk for any specific medication or with longer duration of current use.

Both studies resulted from a research collaboration between AHRQ and U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The research was conducted by Vanderbilt University's and the HMO Research Network DEcIDE (Developing Evidence to Inform Decisions about Effectiveness) centers. Both reports can be viewed at AHRQ's Effective Health Care Program Web site at http://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/index.cfm/search-for-guides-reviews-and-reports/?pageaction=displayProduct&productID=885&PCem=RA (children) and http://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/index.cfm/search-for-guides-reviews-and-reports/?pageaction=displayProduct&productID=884&PCem=RA (adults).

Current as of January 2012
Internet Citation: ADHD medications don't increase serious heart risks in children or adults: Research Activities, January 2012, No. 377. January 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/jan12/0112RA24.html