Study associates increased cardiac risk with ADHD stimulant medication


According to a study funded by the FDA and the National Institute of Mental Health, stimulant medication for the treatment of ADHD - attention deficit hyperactivity disorder - in children and teens leads to an increased risk for sudden cardiac death.

However, though the study associates a cardiac risk with stimulants like Ritalin, the FDA as well as the study authors have emphasized that the results neither imply that a change is required in the way the drugs are used, or should there be a change in the line of treatment.

Talking about the risk of sudden death due to stimulant use, lead researcher Madelyn S. Gould said: "These are very rare events, and parents should not be overly concerned. This shouldn't stop anyone from using medications that can help children. But the clinicians who prescribe these drugs must be vigilant about screening and monitoring their patients."

The researchers observed 564 children and teenagers on stimulant medication - who died suddenly due to unidentified reasons - and the same number of children and teens who died as passengers in auto accidents.

The study found that many of the mysterious deaths could be attributed to formerly undiagnosed cardiac arrhythmias. The researchers said that use of stimulants for treating ADHD increased the chances of sudden death by six to seven times, vis-à-vis accidental deaths.

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