ADHD Medication Linked to Slightly Increased Risk of Heart Rhythm Problems

According to a study headed up by researchers out of Canada, Australia and South Korea and published in The BMJ, the use of methylphenidate in children and young people with ADHD is associated with a slightly increased risk of abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) shortly after the start of treatment. Though the absolute risk is likely to be low, the researchers say the benefits of methylphenidate “should be carefully weighed against the potential cardiovascular risk of these drugs in children and adolescents.”

While the cardiac safety of stimulants like Methylphenidate, which is a central nervous system stimulant used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, is debated it is known to slightly raise blood pressure and accelerate heart rate. The researchers looked into data on 1,224 cardiac events from a population of 114,647 children and young people under the age of 18 that had been newly treated with the drug.

The results of the analysis were that cardiac events (arrhythmias, hypertension, myocardial infarction, ischemic stroke and heart failure) were statistically significantly more likely to have occurred during the first two months of use compared with periods of non-use, and risk was highest in the first three days of use. No significant risk was seen in terms of myocardial infarction while there was no increased risk observed for hypertension, ischemic stroke, or heart failure.

“Methylphenidate exposure in children and young people with diagnosis of ADHD is associated with arrhythmia and potentially with myocardial infarction in specific time periods of use,” said the authors. “With the increased use of drugs for ADHD globally, the benefits of methylphenidate should be careful weighed against the potential cardiovascular risk of these drugs in children and adolescents.”

raziRazi Berry, Founder and Publisher of Naturopathic Doctor News & Review ( and NaturalPath (, has spent the last decade as a natural medicine advocate and marketing whiz. She has galvanized and supported the naturopathic community, bringing a higher quality of healthcare to millions of North Americans through her publications. A self-proclaimed health-food junkie and mother of two; she loves all things nature, is obsessed with organic gardening, growing fruit trees (not easy in Phoenix), laughing until she snorts, and homeschooling. She is a little bit crunchy and yes, that is her real name.

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