Saturday, February 14, 2009

Heart Tests Urged for Kids Using ADHD Drugs

Stimulant ADHD medications can increase heart rate and blood pressure. This can put some children with underlying heart conditions at a greater risk of sudden cardiac death. To help reduce the heart risks of children with ADHD, the American Heart Association recommends a pre-treatment heart exam, including an electrocardiogram (ECG).

The FDA reported that 19 children died suddenly while taking ADHD medications and another 26 children experienced serious problems, including cardiac arrest, stroke, and heart palpitations between 1999 and 2004.

Even children who don’t show any symptoms might have undiagnosed heart conditions. Furthermore, some heart conditions may not appear until adolescence so children who have had normal results on an ECG in the past may need to be retested again later.

Chances are, your child’s heart is strong, healthy and able to withstand the effects of stimulant medications. Just to be on the safe side though, have your child’s heart tested before starting treatment.

There are a number of pros and cons to using prescription ADHD medications. The best advice I can give is to follow your heart and do what you truly believe is best for your child.

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