Having an autistic child is not the end of the world--far from it. It is my hope that through this blog, at least a handful of people will get to understand that. My child is amazing, she brings us tremendous joy. We have good days & bad days, but we CHOOSE to focus on the good. Our belief is that by loving our daughter, giving her the most comfortable environment we can, and by most of all accepting her differences, she will continue to blossom--in her OWN way.

4/21/08

ADHD Meds & Your Child's Heart

Press Release: Children with ADHD should get heart tests before treatment with stimulant drugs

Statement highlights:
• The side effects of stimulant drugs, like those used to treat ADHD are usually insignificant, but are important to monitor for children with ADHD and certain heart conditions.
• Children diagnosed with ADHD should receive an electrocardiogram (ECG) to rule out heart abnormalities before beginning treatment with stimulant drugs.
• Children currently taking stimulant drugs who did not have an ECG prior to treatment should get an ECG.

Read the American Heart Association's entire press release here. The parts that I found particularly important:

DALLAS, April 21 – Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) should get careful cardiac evaluation and monitoring – including an electrocardiogram (ECG) – before starting treatment with stimulant drugs, a new American Heart Association statement recommends.


If heart problems are suspected after the evaluation, children should be referred to a pediatric cardiologist. Once stimulant treatment begins, children should have their heart health monitored periodically, with a blood pressure check within one to three months, then again at routine follow-ups every six to 12 months.


In 2003, an estimated 2.5 million children took medication for ADHD. Surveys indicate that ADHD affects an estimated 4 percent to 12 percent of all school-aged children in the United States, and it appears more common in children with heart conditions. Studies report that, depending on the specific cardiac condition, 33 percent to 42 percent of pediatric cardiac patients have ADHD, Vetter said. The number of undiagnosed children with heart conditions is unknown as routine heart screening is not performed, but Vetter said that a recent pilot study she presented at the American Heart Association’s 2007 Scientific Session indicated that up to 2 percent of healthy school aged children had potentially serious undiagnosed cardiac conditions identified by an ECG.


Data from the FDA showed that between 1999 and 2004, 19 children taking ADHD medications died suddenly and 26 children experienced cardiovascular events such as strokes, cardiac arrests and heart palpitations. Since February 2007, the FDA has required all manufacturers of drug products approved for ADHD treatment to develop Medication Guidelines to alert patients to possible cardiovascular risks.

***Bold for emphasis, by S.L.

7 comments:

Marla said...

Never heard this. M has had all the heart tests and an abnormality was found but it is not a serious one. Thanks for sharing.

S.L. said...

You are welcome! :) I had happened to catch the tail-end of it on the news ticker today & went online to check it out. So far, haven't seen it reported on (but, then again, could just have missed it). Hopefully all the docs are staying on top of this.

abfh said...

About damn time they figured out (after what, about 50 years?) that they couldn't just hand out amphetamines to children like candy.

fledchen said...

Why only children? Why not adults?

Anonymous said...

Good piece of info here. I never knew that ADHD is accompanied by such a larger percentage of heart problems. I'm pretty sure my son has ADHD. At 3 years old, he had to have some dental work done. We took him to a pediatric hospital for sedation and the nurse anesthetist remarked on the beauty of his eyelashes (very long) and said she sees that a lot in children with heart problems. I'll need to check this out further. He's not on any stimulants but these are two observations from sources I normally trust that might warrant further investigation.

Bryan said...

A well-written post. Agree with you. You can learn more on how to cure attention deficit disorder at www.attention-deficit-disorder.net. It may take quite some time to cure, but it's definitely a good try.

S.L. said...

Still more studies need to be done, for sure. This is still pretty scary stuff. I think so many are quick to medicate, before trying other things. I was diagnosed with ADHD as a teen. Not medicated for that, as my parents were scared to death of lithium...and that was about the only thing going at the time for it. I found help with therapy, and biofeedback. It's still something I deal with.

Today though, people talk about adderall et al like they're no big deal. I think there is a place for these drugs (I've known kids who despite alternative therapies & many attempts to help them w/o meds, the drugs were the only thing that helped the child to be able to sit & listen in class, etc.). But, I'm glad they are finally looking at long-term studies & the effects especially on kids. My generation, we were all basically guinea pigs for all these psychiatric meds, and it's a relief to finally see the casualties from that be made known (hopefully we'll all learn, take the warning).