Jump to:  A   |   B   |   C   |   D   |   E   |   F   |   G   |   H   |   I   |   J   |   K   |   L   |   M   |   N   |   O   |   P   |   Q   |   R   |   S   |   T   |   U   |   V   |   W   |   X   |   Y

Animal Study Suggests Ritalin Won't Harm the Heart

Animal Study Suggests Ritalin Won't Harm the Heart

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 9, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Ritalin, a widely used stimulant drug to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), likely poses no risk of heart damage in children, new research in monkeys suggests.

The findings are "very reassuring," said the study's principal investigator, Dr. Steven Lipshultz.

Each year, more than 1.8 million children in the United States take drugs to treat ADHD. Concerns have been raised that Ritalin, Concerta and other forms of methylphenidate could harm children's hearts.

Some studies have reported an increase in sudden cardiac death among children taking methylphenidate or other stimulant drugs for ADHD.

But this new study found that five years of high doses of methylphenidate did not damage the hearts of 30 rhesus monkeys. That length of time is similar to how long children and adults would use the drugs.

"Even high-dose chronic [methylphenidate] stimulant therapy did not result in any evidence of abnormal structures or function in the hearts of the monkeys," said Lipshultz, chair of pediatrics at the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, in New York.

However, his team cautioned that the results of animal research are not automatically applicable to humans.

One ADHD specialist unconnected to the study agreed.

"The [animal] study cannot be automatically applicable to humans," said Dr. Victor Fornari, who directs child and adolescent psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y.

Still, the findings "provide compelling evidence of the cardiac safety of this important evidence-based treatment for ADHD," Fornari said.

About 10 percent of U.S. children have been diagnosed with ADHD and related disorders. Up to 70 percent of them take prescription stimulant drugs, so possible heart risks associated with the drugs are a major concern, study author Lipshultz said in a university news release.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has ordered some prescription stimulants to carry black box warnings stating that children with underlying heart disease should use these medications with caution.

In Canada, a stimulant drug was removed from the market after it was linked to a small number of sudden cardiac deaths. Sales of the drug later resumed.

"This controversy has persisted without answer," Lipshultz said. "Yet the number of prescriptions for these medications for children with ADHD continues to expand."

Another expert said the new findings should help ease concerns.

The study results "are overall re-assuring in terms of cardiac safety and long-term use of stimulants for ADHD in otherwise healthy individuals," said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

However, he added that the study "does not address clinical concerns about the safety of stimulants in individuals with certain types of heart disease."

Therefore, "health care providers need to continue to screen children for cardiac problems prior to prescribing stimulant medications like Ritalin, Concerta or Adderall, since there are some individuals who may still be at increased risk for potentially serious heart problems if treated with stimulant medication," Adesman said.

Lipshultz noted that the findings are good news for another type of pediatric patient: young cancer survivors.

"I have cared for children and adolescents who have survived childhood cancer, who now are experiencing severe learning disabilities as a result of their cancer therapies. They become my patients because their hearts have been damaged, an unfortunate effect of the successful treatment of their childhood cancer," he said.

"Current recommendations state that children such as these, with underlying heart disease, should avoid chronic stimulant therapy because of the concern that it could further damage their hearts," he explained. "However, these prescription stimulants often allow these children to do much better with their learning progress."

The new findings suggest that, in many cases, these medications can be prescribed to these children as well, Lipshultz said.

The study was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. It was recently published in the journal Pediatric Research.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more on ADHD.

SOURCES: Andrew Adesman, M.D., chief, developmental & behavioral pediatrics, Cohen Children's Medical Center, New Hyde Park, N.Y.; Victor Fornari, M.D., director, child and adolescent psychiatry, Zucker Hillside Hospital, Glen Oaks, N.Y.; University at Buffalo, news release, Jan. 3, 2019

Reviewed Date: --

Find a pediatrician
Neurology
Dr. Sarah Chagnon
Dr. Thomas Enlow
Dr. L. Matthew Frank
Dr. Ralph Northam
Dr. Crystal Proud
Dr. Svinder Toor
Dr. Ryan Williams
Health Tips
Abuse of Prescription ADHD Medicines Rising on College Campuses
Helping Kids Get Over their Fears
How Old Is "Old Enough" for Contacts?
Quizzes
Heart Health Quiz
Heart Quiz for Women Only
NewsLetters
5 Health Symptoms Women Shouldn’t Ignore
Breastfeeding May Lower Women’s Postmenopausal Stroke Risk
It’s Personal: New Guidelines Recommend Customizing Cholesterol Treatment Plans
Making “Cents” of High Blood Pressure
When a Chronic Disease Runs in Your Family
Diseases & Conditions
Anatomy of a Child's Brain
Anatomy of the Endocrine System in Children
Anomalous Coronary Artery in Children
Anxiety Disorders in Children
Asthma in Children Index
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children
Becker Muscular Dystrophy (BMD) in Children
Bone Marrow Transplant for Children
Brain Tumors in Children
Chemotherapy for Children: Side Effects
Ewing Sarcoma in Children
Firearms
Hepatitis B (HBV) in Children
Home Page - Cardiovascular Disorders
Inflammatory and Infectious Musculoskeletal Disorders
Inflammatory and Infectious Neurological Disorders
Inguinal Hernia in Children
Insect Bites and Children
Kidney Transplantation in Children
Meningitis in Children
Mood Disorders in Children and Adolescents
Myasthenia Gravis (MG) in Children
Osteosarcoma (Osteogenic Sarcoma) in Children
Pediatric Blood Disorders
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Children
Pregnancy and Medical Conditions
Pregnancy and Pre-existing Heart Disease
Preparing the School-Aged Child for Surgery
Schizophrenia in Children
School-Aged Child Nutrition
Sports Safety for Children
Superficial Injuries of the Face and Head- Overview
Television and Children
Thalassemia
The Growing Child: 2-Year-Olds
The Heart
The Kidneys
Your Child's Asthma
Your Child's Asthma: Flare-ups

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.