Friday, September 16, 2011

ADHD Drugs Raise Heart Rate, Not Blood Pressure

Long-term use of stimulant medications to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) raises questions about the drugs' effects on the heart. Researchers in the Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD (MTA) who followed patients in a clinical trial a dozen years ago now report that children treated with methylphenidate and other stimulant drugs did not have increased rates of hypertension; however, their hearts did beat slightly faster on average while in treatment.

The study, by Benedetto Vitiello, M.D., of the National Institute of Mental Health, and colleagues, appeared in AJP in Advance on September 2. Once the 14-month study was over, patients were free to use any treatment or none at all. The increase in heart rate observed several years later was likely attributable to patients who continued to take the drugs.

There were no cardiac-related illnesses or death, said the researchers, but they recommended that children with any underlying heart abnormalities should be monitored closely for cardiovascular problems. For more information, see Psychiatric News at

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