ADHD Medication and Your Heart

Does ADHD medication really pose a risk to your heart

February 29, 2012 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

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(dailyRx News) Controversy surrounding the link between ADHD medication and cardiovascular risk has been abuzz in the media lately. But is that hype true?  

While there is a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular issues in users of methylphenidate, the active ingredient in Ritalin, a drug commonly used to treat ADHD, one study suggests that methylphenidate might not be the cause of the increase in risk.

"Talk to your doctor about the risks of certain medications"

A study that was based on data gathered from the Medicaid database of five-states as well as the database from a 14-state insurance company found that the 43,999 new users of methylphenidate were 1.84 times more likely than nonusers to suffer either a stroke or heart attack. 

Although, when researchers studied the effects of a decrease in dosage methylphenidate in new users, the risk for heart attack or stroke did not statistically differ. Therefore, researchers were unable to suggest a causal association between methylphenidate and cardiovascular risk.

Sean Hennessy, Pharm.D., Ph.D., and co-author of the study was surprised by the findings. "Ordinarily, if a drug increases the risk of adverse outcomes, that increase is going to be dose-dependent. We didn't see that, and in fact, found an inverse relationship for death and other outcomes," says Dr. Hennessy.

It seems for now there is no conclusive evidence labeling the stimulants in ADHD medication as the cause of increased risk of heart attack or stroke.  But when assessing the risks of stimulants or other medications on your heart, it’s always best to consult a professional. 

This study was funded through a research agreement with Shire Development, Inc., with support from National Institutes of Health (NIH). Shire Development is a worldwide biopharmaceutical company.  It was published by The American Journal of Psychiatry on February 1, 2012