By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
A new study looked at nearly 150,000 adults taking drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and found that the medications do not increase the risk for heart attack, stroke, or sudden death from heart-related causes.
The research, published online Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, comes just over a month after the same investigators found that the drugs likely do not raise the risk for serious heart problems in children and young adults, based on their study of more than 1.2 million young users.
Drugs for ADHD are being taken by millions of children and adults in the U.S. These include stimulants such as Adderall,Concerta, Metadate, Methylin, Ritalin, or the non-stimulant Strattera to treat ADHD symptoms such as hyperactivity, impulse control, and trouble focusing.
While the results are reassuring they do not rule out a modest increase in risk associated with their use, says researcher Laurel A. Habel, a research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif. She said, “With any drug there are potential risks, and these drugs can increase blood pressure… But if there is an increase in [heart-related] events, our study suggests that it is slight.”
“These studies provide an important piece of the puzzle that we have not had,” says Vanderbilt University professor of pediatrics and preventive medicine William O. Cooper, who led the study in children.