Can ADHD medications cause heart problems?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
Heart problems have been observed in some children who take stimulant medications for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Some people taking these medications have died, and others have had heart attacks, strokes, and other heart problems. As a result, stimulant medications for ADHD now display a warning label that cautions patients about the potential for heart problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics website says that the Food and Drug Administration is still investigating these cases, deciding whether more action needs to be taken.

According to MayoClinic.com, pediatricians will evaluate a child's health before prescribing stimulant medications for ADHD to reduce the risk of heart problems. The American Heart Association recommends that children receive an electrocardiogram (ECG) before taking stimulants, but this is not required at this time.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
YES. In some rare cases, stimulant medications for ADHD, such as Ritalin (methylphenidate) and Adderall (amphetamine), can cause heart problems such as a heart attack. The problems seem to develop much more commonly in people who have a heart problem before they start taking the drugs. So before you start taking any medications, make sure your doctor knows about your other medical conditions. In fact, since there are important side effects from these medicines, do not request them without a thorough discussion with at least two docs (we believe a second opinion is warranted for any medical treatment whose effects or duration is greater than three days, and certainly more than 20 days).

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.