Good news for parents with over active children, the FDA confirmed that a study, which included more than one million children and young adults (2-24 years), showed that cardiovascular problems are not associated with ADHD medications.

Looking at a total of more than 2.5 million person years including nearly 400,000 person years of individuals currently using the medications, the FDA study found reports of only 7 serious cardiovascular issues. Obviously there are risks with taking any medication, but it appears in the case of commonly prescribed ADHD medicine, that the possibility of a serious cardiovascular event is very small.

The drugs included in the study are stimulants amphetamine products and methylphenidate, atomoxetine, and pemoline (which is no longer marketed). Methylphenidate is the pharmaceutica namel for Ritalin which is probably the most commonly known ADHD medicine :

This study which is published in the New England Journal of Medicine, did not find an association between use of ADHD medications and cardiovascular events. FDA continues to recommend that healthcare professionals prescribe these medications according to the professional prescribing label.

The study was the first of three separate but related programs sponsored by the FDA and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The studies were aimed at discovering any risk from heart attack, stroke, or sudden cardiac death that might be associated with ADHD medicines. The second and third studies which are focused on adults will be released by the FDA in due course.

The FDA provided additional Information for Patients or Caregivers:

  • Continue your ADHD treatment as prescribed by a healthcare professional.
  • Talk to your healthcare professional about any questions you may have about ADHD medications.
  • Immediately see a healthcare professional if you or the person you are caring for develops chest pain, shortness of breath, or fainting while taking medication to treat ADHD.
  • Report any suspected side effects of ADHD medication use to your healthcare professional or to the FDA MedWatch program.

It should also be noted that Ritalin is not recommended for patients that have used a MAO inhibitor such as furazolidone (Furoxone), isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam), or tranylcypromine (Parnate) within the past 14 days.

Serious, life-threatening side effects can occur if Ritalin is used before the MAO inhibitor has cleared from the body. It is also not recommended for those who have glaucoma, overactive thyroid, severe high blood pressure, tics or Tourette’s syndrome, angina, heart failure, heart rhythm disorder, recent heart attack, a hereditary condition such as fructose intolerance, glucose-galactose malabsorption, or sucrase-isomaltase deficiency, or severe anxiety, tension, or agitation.

Ritalin (methylphenidate) can be habit forming and has been the subject of some controversy with advocates calling for its use to be severely restricted in those under age. Neil Bush the brother of GW Bush (former US President) began an aggressive campaign against Ritalin stating :

You know, we have a knee-jerk reaction in this education system where, if the kid doesn’t perform well, then the reaction is to try to assign a label. The label is followed by a drug. The drug allows the kid to sit cooperatively, to pay attention, to focus in school … There is a systemic problem in this country, where schools are often forcing parents to turn to Ritalin …It’s obvious to me that we have a crisis.

Bush also testified before a hearing of the United States Congress to speak out against over-medicating children for learning disorders.

Written by Rupert Shepherd