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ADHD drugs can weaken the heart

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Young people taking ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) medication are at risk of developing cardiomyopathy, or a weakened heart muscle.

ADHD stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin increase the risk by 17 percent in the first year and by 57 percent if they are taken for eight years or longer.

Researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine decided to take a longer-term view of the potential damage of ADHD medication as most studies have looked only at the first year.  They analysed data from 80 hospitals and compared those prescribed one of the stimulants with healthy controls.  In all, 12,759 pairs—one taking medication, and one healthy person—were analysed for 10 years.

Those taking medication were “significantly” more likely to develop cardiomyopathy during the 10 years, although the numbers in real terms remained low.  For every 2,000 patients, one would develop the heart problem, and this rises to one in 500 after 10 years.

Cardiomyopathy changes the structure of the heart and weakens its pumping ability.  Sufferers tire easily and are unable to complete daily tasks.

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References
Proceedings of the American College of Cardiology annual scientific session, March 27, 2024
Article Topics: ADHD, Heart Health
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