Wednesday, April 23, 2008

ADHD and Heart Problems

I know from a prior post that some of you are dealing with ADHD. I thought you might want to read this.

From CNN:

Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD should be carefully monitored for heart problems before receiving treatment. The American Heart Association recommends kids with ADHD receive electrocardiograms before taking stimulant drugs for their condition.

Studies have shown these medications can increase heart rate and blood pressure, even in children, although most young people with ADHD undergo a physical exam. Researchers say that's not enough, because underlying heart problems are tough to detect in children until it's too late. By looking at the child's heart history before prescribing drugs, doctors hope to cut down on the number of heart problems before treatment begins.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen


Knight in Dragonland said...

In an ideal world, all children should be screened for heart conditions. However, we live in a world with limited resources and ballooning healthcare costs. Obtaining and interpreting an EKG for every child in the country being treated with stimulant medications would cost hundreds of millions of dollars ... and for what benefit?

In the last decade, out of the millions of children treated safely with these medications, there have been perhaps 30 cases of sudden cardiac death that MAY have been causally related to stimulants interacting with an underlying cardiac disease. It's nearly impossible to determine whether those children would have died anyway from their heart conditions.

As far as I can see, the main beneficiaries of this new policy would be cardiologists. They get paid to interpret EKGs and would benefit from all the referrals generated to "rule out" underlying cardiac disease.

In my opinion, this is an extremely overzealous recommendation and a poor use of limited healthcare resources.

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