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ADHD Medications Can Raise The Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease In Children, Adults: Study

ADHD Medications Can Raise The Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease In Children, Adults: Study
According to the research, with every additional year of ADHD medication consumption, the risk of heart disease increased by an average of 4 per cent. (Photo: Freepik)

ADHD is a chronic condition that leads to attention difficulty, hyperactivity. It can begin in childhood, but continue to afflict people in adulthood, leading to difficulties in school and office.

Written by Prerna Mittra |Updated : November 23, 2023 1:01 PM IST

Taking medicines for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases in both children and adults, a recent study has revealed. As the name suggests, ADHD is a chronic condition that entails attention difficulty, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. It can begin in childhood, but continue to afflict people in adulthood, leading to difficulties in school and office. People with ADHD are said to have low self-esteem and troubled relationships.

For the study -- published in JAMA Psychiatry -- researchers in Sweden followed the medical records of individuals with ADHD for an average of four years, and up to 14 years, between 2007 and 2020, a CNN report states. The patients -- between the age group of 6 years and 64 years -- were also monitored for "a range of cardiovascular disease diagnoses". It was found that people taking ADHD medications had a higher risk of hypertension and arterial disease, with the risk increasing over time. It meant that people who took ADHD medication for a longer term were more at risk.

According to the research, with every additional year of ADHD medication consumption, the risk of heart disease increased by an average of 4 per cent. Researchers have found that heart disease risk was 23 per cent higher for people who used ADHD medication for more than five years, as opposed to those who did not take medication at all.

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"These findings highlight the importance of carefully weighing potential benefits and risks when making treatment decisions about long-term ADHD medication use. Clinicians should regularly and consistently monitor cardiovascular signs and symptoms throughout the course of treatment," the research paper stated, adding that pharmacological therapy -- including both stimulants and nonstimulants -- is recommended as the first-line treatment for ADHD in many countries. Additionally, the use of ADHD medication has increased greatly in both children and adults in the past decades.

A previously-done research on the topic had found that adults with ADHD have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, and that stimulants that are prescribed to treat it are known to elevate blood pressure, making the heart work harder and faster.