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ADHD in Children Health Center

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Study: ADHD Drugs Likely Do Not Boost Heart Risk

New Findings May Ease Fears for Parents and Patients

ADHD Drugs and Heart Risk: Study Details continued...

They evaluated ADHD drugs in use during the study period, from 1986 to 2002. The follow-up lasted until 2005. The drugs included:

For each patient on an ADHD medicine, the researchers selected up to two patients not on the medicine. They matched them by age and sex. The average age of the patients was 11. The follow-up averaged more than two years.

Next, the researchers looked to see if patients on medicine were more likely to have a serious problem, including heart attack, sudden cardiac death, or stroke.

In all, 81 patients had a serious problem, Cooper tells WebMD. Of the 81 events, seven were in current users of ADHD drugs, 25 events among former users, and 49 among nonusers.

However, overall, there was no significant increase in risk for those on the medicines compared with those who were not, he says.

However, the statistical ''power'' of the study was somewhat limited, Cooper says. For that reason, he says an increased risk of heart and stroke problems among those on the medicine could not be totally ruled out. The risk could be nearly doubled, compared to those not on the drugs, he says.

But in absolute, real-life terms that estimated increased risk would still be very low, he says.

Overall, the chance of heart and stroke problems was about 3.1 per 100,000 people taking the medicine for a year, he says.

So, even if that risk nearly doubled for those on the medicine, he says, that would translate to about 5.7 serious problems for every 100,000 people taking the medicine for a year.

The study was funded by the FDA and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Second Opinion

Some experts found the findings more reassuring than others. "This paper does not settle the question about the safety of ADHD drugs," says Steven Nissen, MD, chair of cardiovascular medicine at Cleveland Clinic.

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