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Will These Meds Attack Your Heart?

Written by Dr. Dave Hnida CBS4 Medical EditorWhen most people think of drugs like Ritalin or Adderall, they think of kids — believing that children are the only sufferers of ADD or ADHD.

Far from it. Although attention disorders are twice as common in kids compared to adults, about 1.5 million grownups have been diagnosed and treated for the disorders.

So there’s what this is all about. These meds are stimulants, and can wind up raising blood pressure and pulse, leading to the question: how much of a strain does that put on the adult ticker.

The good news, according to a new study in the JAMA, is not much. researchers followed more than 440,000 adults with attention deficit disorders on these stimulant medications and found their rate of heart problems was the same as adults not on the meds.

Researchers obviously took into account other heart risk factors such as high BP, cholesterol, and so forth in coming to their conclusion after crunching the numbers (which showed, by the way, the rate of heart attack was one half of 1 percent … pretty low.) The group studied ranged in age from 25-64.

Now what about kids? A major study last month showed no increased  risk of damage to their hearts.

My thoughts: good news since millions of Americans, big and small, get relief from these medications.

However, its HUGELY important that all patients who take these stimulant drugs are screened beforehand for risk of heart problems, and then are followed regularly afterwards to make sure their blood pressures haven’t jumped through the roof, and so forth.

Plus: Remember to be sure the drugs are appropriate in the first place. They can be of great help, but not for everyone … and even when appropriate, should be accompanied by other non medicine measures of treatment such as therapy and counseling.


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