Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

ADHD in Children Health Center

Font Size

ADHD Drugs: Heart Screen Recommended

American Heart Association Calls for Electrocardiograms Before Kids Take ADHD Drugs

ADHD Drugs Raise Heart Rate, Blood Pressure continued...

Studies suggest that ADHD is more common in children with heart problems than in the general pediatric population. And the obesity epidemic has led to an epidemic of high blood pressure among children and teens, Vetter says.

Since February 2007, the FDA has required that medications used to treat ADHD be accompanied by information warning about the use of these drugs in patients with heart problems. This has created a variety of dilemmas, including how to determine if a child has heart disease.

Vetter says her own preliminary research suggests that as many as 2% of children in the U.S. have undiagnosed heart problems that could be identified by ECG screening.

"This is definitely an issue that needed to be addressed," she says. The goal of the updated recommendations is to "allow treatment of this very significant problem of ADHD while attempting to lower the risk of these [medications]."

ECG Should Be Routine

The AHA panel's pretreatment recommendations include:

  • Taking a thorough medical history prior to treatment, with special attention given to symptoms that might indicate heart problems, such as heart palpitations, high blood pressure, heart murmur, fainting or near-fainting episodes, chest pain, or unexplained change in exercise tolerance.
  • Review of all current medications including prescription, over-the-counter preparations, and health supplements.
  • Careful evaluation for a family history of sudden death, serious rhythm abnormalities, heart muscle disorders (cardiomyopathy), or Marfan's syndrome.
  • A physical exam, including assessment of blood pressure and heart rhythm.
  • An ECG to identify or rule out heart problems. The electrocardiogram should be read by a pediatric cardiologist or a doctor with expertise in reading pediatric ECGs.
  • Referral to a pediatric cardiologist if the pretreatment evaluation shows cause for concern.

"We are not saying that if all these things can't be done, kids shouldn't be put on medication," Vetter says. "A child who lives in rural Kentucky may not have access to a pediatric ECG. We are going to have to figure out how to address the access issue."

Furthermore, even if heart disease is identified, treatment may still be used with careful monitoring. "It is reasonable to use stimulants with caution in patients with known congenital heart disease and/or arrhythmias, if these patients are stable and under the care of a pediatric cardiologist," the panel notes.

Today on WebMD

doctor writing on clipboard
mother with child
disciplining a boy
daughter with her unhappy parents
preschool age girl sitting at desk
Child with adhd
father helping son with homework
children in sack race