A team of researchers from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center compared the health outcomes of 44 youth (aged 6 to 18) with congenital heart defects who were taking stimulants and found no increased risk for death or changes in cardiac vital signs, such as blood pressure or heart rate, when compared with youth with similar heart defects who were not taking stimulants. The youth taking stimulants also showed significant improvements in their ADHD symptoms.
“Children with congenital heart disease are at high risk for ADHD, but fears about cardiovascular side effects, including sudden death, limit the use of stimulant medications,” Julia Anixt, M.D., a developmental and behavioral pediatrician at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, said in a press release. Since 2006, the Food and Drug Administration has required warning labels on stimulant medications that caution that they generally should not be used in patients with serious heart problems due to the increased risk of serious cardiovascular complications.
“This study indicates that stimulants are both effective and safe when prescribed with appropriate monitoring and in collaboration with the patient's cardiologist,” Anixt said.
For related information, see the Psychiatric News article “Pediatricians Urged to Adhere Better to ADHD Care Practices.”