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ADHD Patients on Stimulants More Likely to Suffer Heart Damage

Kid playing ADHD

ADHD Patients on Stimulants More Likely to Suffer Heart Damage


Although stimulants have always been considered an effective medication for ADHD, there are several side effects such as addiction to the drug, psychosis, and seizures. A new study by the American College of Cardiology's Annual Scientific Session has found that stimulant use in ADHD patients can increase the risks of a heart problem known as cardiomyopathy.

Cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart muscles weaken, reducing its pumping ability. As a result, patients may get tired easily and have difficulty performing daily tasks.

This adds to the list of potential side effects of stimulants for ADHD.

However, Pauline Gerard, the study's lead author, noted that when put into perspective, the risk of developing cardiomyopathy from stimulant use may not be as grave as it sounds to the point of altering how these drugs are prescribed.

The researchers conducted the study by analyzing people with ADHD from the TriNetX research database. At the end of ten years, 0.72% of individuals on stimulants developed cardiomyopathy, compared to 0.53% of those not on the drug.

That means, about 7 out of 1,000 people on stimulants may develop cardiomyopathy within 10 years. On the other hand, about 5 out of 1,000 may develop cardiomyopathy even when they were never on stimulants.

If we look at it, we see that stimulant-induced cardiomyopathy accounts for only 2 out of 1000 individuals who would otherwise not have developed cardiomyopathy with or without stimulants.

At these low levels, researchers say there's no need to discontinue the prescription of stimulants or conduct aggressive testing before prescribing it.

However, we know this is a risk, and it's as real as any other. And if we can avoid it, all the better. Thankfully, there are other alternative ADHD medications that may be safer and even more effective than stimulants.

If you're an ADHD patient, consult with a licensed mental health provider for proper evaluation and personalized recommendation.

We can help. Please get in touch with us today.

Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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