A meta-analysis of nearly 4M participants found no association between the use of medications to treat ADHD and any cardiovascular disease outcome.
ADHD medications are known to increase heart rate and blood pressure, and as the use of ADHD medication increases in both adults and children, there has been understandable concern that ADHD meds may lead to adverse cardiovascular effects.
But these findings suggest these medications may actually be safe for the heart.
In the systematic review and meta-analysis, researchers analyzed 19 studies from the US, Spain, Denmark, Hong Kong, Canada, and South Korea, involving 3.9M children, adolescents, and adults.
Researchers found no statistically significant association between ADHD and any CVD outcome among…
- Children and adolescents (pooled adjusted relative risk: 1.18)
- Young or middle-aged adults (RR: 1.04)
- Older adults (RR: 1.59)
Both stimulants and non-stimulants showed no association. When the authors looked at specific cardiovascular outcomes (such as cardiac arrest, arrhythmias, cerebrovascular diseases, or myocardial infarction) there was still no association. There was even no association among those with preexisting CVD.
Overall, the findings are reassuring and suggest these medications — which have raised concerns about CVD risk — may be safe for the heart. While the authors acknowledge that a “modest risk increase could not be ruled out,” the findings should comfort readers with cardiovascular patients being treated for ADHD.