Can ADHD Medications Raise Risk of Heart Disease?


While there is substantial evidence that ADHD medications can help reduce the core symptoms of the neurological disorder, researchers have repeatedly raised concerns about the cardiovascular safety of both stimulant and nonstimulant medications.

According to previous findings, ADHD drugs modulate levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine and may be able to increase heart rate and blood pressure. Methylphenidate, a stimulant commonly used to treat ADHD, has been associated with an increase in heart rate, or heart rate.

But since these previous studies only evaluated short-term effects, there is still some uncertainty about whether these changes could lead to a significantly increased risk of developing heart disease in the long term. While longer term studies have reported mixed findings.

In a recent study involving 3.9 million participants, a group of researchers based in Sweden found that there was no association between the use of drugs to treat ADHD and the outcome of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

The team analyzed 19 studies involving adults, children and adolescents from six countries. About 61% of them were men. The mean follow-up period of the participants was 9.5 years. The researchers examined a wide range of cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension, heart failure, cardiac arrest, tachyarrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), myocardial infarction and stroke.

“This meta-analysis does not reveal a statistically significant association between ADHD medication and CVD risk in all age groups, although a modest increase in risk cannot be ruled out, particularly for risk of cardiac arrest or tachyarrhythmias.” ”, the researchers conclude.

While the absolute risk is relatively low — especially in young and middle-aged adults — the risk of cardiovascular disease may be outweighed by the benefits of medications that help reduce ADHD symptoms and reduce the frequency of impulsive or risky behaviors. Hey. “However, the benefit-risk trade-off may be different in high-risk patients,” the researchers cautioned in their paper.

“Further research is warranted for cardiovascular risks and pre-existing cardiovascular disease in female patients, as well as long-term risks associated with the use of ADHD medications,” they said.

Commenting on this study, Roy Zigelstein of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine wrote in JAMA, “Clinicians should be equally cautious when drawing conclusions about the safety of ADHD medications, especially in older adults with established CVD.” “

“It should also be noted that polypharmacy is particularly common in older individuals, and therefore the potential for drug interactions is greater,” he added.

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