No link found between stimulant treatment of youth with ADHD and cardiovascular problems
Research Activities, September 2012, No. 385
Stimulants are widely considered the first-line drug treatment for children and adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), with approximately 3.2 percent of youth in the United States being treated with stimulants each year. Stimulants, which increase heart rate and blood pressure, have labeling required by the Food and Drug Administration that warns of the possibility of sudden death from stimulant use in children and adolescents with structural cardiac abnormalities or other serious heart problems. However, a new study found no association between stimulant treatment of youth with ADHD with no known cardiovascular risk factors. The researchers reviewed the records of 171,126 patients with ADHD who were 6 to 21 years of age and without known cardiovascular risk factors. They found that clinical diagnoses of cardiovascular events and symptoms were rare and not associated with stimulant use.
These findings help to reduce concerns over the cardiovascular safety of stimulant therapy for ADHD in young people without known pre-existing risk factors. The researchers focused on the treatment of ADHD with methylphenidate and mixed salts of amphetamine in a large privately insured population. Data on service and pharmacy claims came from a commercial research database. This study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS16097).
See "Stimulants and cardiovascular events in youth with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder," by Mark Olfson, M.D., Cecilia Huang, Ph.D., Tobias Gerhard, Ph.D., and others in the February 2012 Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry51(2), pp. 147-156.