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Andrew Traub
|Medicine

Before Kids Get ADHD Drugs Have Their Hearts Checked

Children should be screened for heart problems with an electrocardiogram before taking drugs such as Ritalin to treat hyperactivity and attention-deficit disorder according to the American Heart Association. Children already on the drugs should also be tested.

Stimulants can increase blood pressure and heart rate which for most children isn’t a problem. But for those with heart conditions, it could make them more vulnerable to sudden cardiac arrest – an erratic heartbeat that causes the organ to stop pumping blood through the body – and other heart problems.

About 2.5 million children and 1.5 million adults in America take some form of medication for attention-deficit (hyperactivity) disorder, or ADHD, according to government estimates.

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