A word of warning about Ritalin
Kids should have their heartbeats and blood pressure checked before being put on Ritalin.
Children should be screened for heart problems with an electrocardiogram before getting drugs like Ritalin to treat hyperactivity and attention-deficit disorder, the American Heart Association recommended Monday.
Stimulant drugs can increase blood pressure and heart rate. For most children, that isn't a problem. But in those with heart conditions, it could make them more vulnerable to sudden cardiac arrest — an erratic heartbeat that causes the heart to stop pumping blood through the body — and other heart problems.
About 2.5 million American children and 1.5 million adults take medication for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, according to government estimates. Stimulant drugs, like Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta, help children with ADHD stay focused and control their behavior.
The medications already carry warnings of possible heart risks in those with heart defects or other heart problems, which some critics said were driven more by concerns of overuse of the drugs than their safety.
The heart group is now recommending a thorough exam, including a family history and an EKG, before children are put on the drugs to make sure that they don't have any undiagnosed heart issues.
You know, now that I think of it, this seems to be something you would think would be absolutely mandatory, anyway. The idea that a doctor would put a kid on a stimulant with the mere assumption that he or she is healthy is pretty frightening. I imagine that there are certainly occasions when this has happened, but what horrible consequences should there be an underlying problem!
Labels: attention deficit