Cardiac Testing for Children Taking ADHD Drugs
Up to 2% of otherwise healthy children have undiagnosed cardiac conditions, and studies have shown that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may be more prevalent in children with heart disease. Medications for ADHD can increase blood pressure and heart rate. In patients with certain heart conditions, sudden death has also occurred, but the risk of sudden death from ADHD medications is rare. As a result of increased awareness of potential cardiovascular adverse effects, the American Heart Association (AHA) now recommends cardiovascular screening and monitoring of children and adolescents who are receiving ADHD medications, including checking family history and a physical exam for all children prior to starting stimulants, Strattera® (atomoxetine), etc. An electrocardiogram (ECG) is also suggested, especially if there are concerns about congenital heart defects. An ECG can identify heart conditions that wouldn't be found with a physical exam, and alert the child's healthcare provider to monitor the child more closely. However, an ECG is not mandatory and the clinician's judgment should be considered.