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ADD & ADHD Health Center

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Nonstimulant Therapy and Other ADHD Drugs

Blood Pressure Drugs Used to Treat ADHD

Some drugs normally taken for high blood pressure, like clonidine (Kavpay) and guanfacine hcl (Tenex), may help control symptoms of the disorder.

They also can help lower some of the side effects of stimulant meds, especially sleeplessness and aggressive behavior.

They can be used alone or along with stimulants.

How Do High BP Drugs Treat ADHD?

Experts aren’t sure, but it’s clear that they have a calming effect on certain areas of the brain.

Combining stimulants with one of these drugs is controversial, though. Some children taking both stimulants and clonidine hcl have died. It's unclear whether their deaths were due to the combination of drugs.

If you take them together, your doctor should watch you closely to help lower your risk of problems. They can screen you for heart rhythm irregularities, check your blood pressure often, and do electrocardiograms.

If your doctor thinks that taking these two medications has more possible benefits than risks, it may be a good option for you.

Who Should Not Take High BP Drugs?

They might not be a good fit if you have a history of low blood pressure or if you or a family member has had a heart problem.

What Are the Side Effects?

The most common ones include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

Rarely, the drugs can cause irregular heartbeats.

High Blood Pressure Drugs: Tips and Precautions

When taking one of these meds for your ADHD, be sure to tell your doctor if you:

  • Are nursing, pregnant, or plan to become pregnant
  • Are taking or plan to take any dietary supplements, herbal medicines, or nonprescription medications
  • Have any medical problems now or in the past, including low blood pressure, seizures, heart rhythm disturbances, and urinary problems
  • Start having irregular heartbeats (heart palpitations) or fainting spells

Also, keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Always take or give the medication exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor about any problems or questions. It's best not to miss doses or patches, since this may cause the blood pressure to rise quickly, which may cause headaches and other symptoms.
  • Your doctor will probably want to start the medication at a low dose and increase it gradually until your symptoms are under control.
  • For very young children, clonidine tablets can be changed into a liquid by a compounding pharmacy. This will make it easier for them to take. Tablets can be crushed and mixed with food if you have to.
  • Do not stop taking clonidine or guanfacine suddenly. This can cause an increase in blood pressure. These medications must be tapered off gradually.

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