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In April 2008, the American Heart Association (AHA) issued a warning regarding certain medications commonly prescribed for ADHD children. The medications in question have been linked to an increased risk of dangerous cardiovascular events, including sudden cardiac death.
The AHA recommends children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD children, taking stimulants, tricyclic antidepressants, and other psychotropic drugs should undergo routine electrocardiogram (ECG) screenings at regular intervals as long as these particular medications are taken.
Not all ADHD children are at risk for cardiovascular distress but an ECG screening at the beginning of treatment with these drugs is considered the best way to rule out any as-yet-undetected heart conditions that might be affected by the drug treatment.
According to the AHA, almost 2% of the general population of American children is expected to have a heart condition that has not been detected. Sometimes these conditions gradually make their presence known but sometimes realization comes in a sudden, tragic event, especially when triggered by outside forces, such as stimulant drugs.
ADHD children taking the medications in question are at risk for elevated blood pressure readings and accelerated heart rate. These conditions are a result of the stimulating action of the drugs they are taking for ADHD.
The number of ADHD children in the United States is estimated to be 4% to 12% of all children of school age. In 2003, more than 2.5 million of them were on stimulant drug treatments. Children with known cardiac conditions are 33% to 42% more likely to be diagnosed also with ADHD.
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