A New Study Has Shown That Those Who Take Stimulant Medications Like Adderall Or Ritalin For ADHD Are At An Increased Risk Of Developing Cardiomyopathy Over Time

Milan - - illustrative purposes only

New research has shown an increased risk of cardiomyopathy, or a weakened heart muscle, over time among those who take stimulant medications like Adderall or Ritalin for ADHD.

But, it’s crucial to note that, according to researchers, the overall risk is still considered to be low.

The team, whose findings are set to be showcased at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session, analyzed data from more than 12,700 young adults aged 20 to 40 who have been diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

They compared individuals who were prescribed stimulant ADHD medications with those who weren’t taking these drugs. The study revealed that after one year, patients using stimulant medications had a 17% higher chance of developing cardiomyopathy, and this increased risk rose to 57% after eight years in comparison to those not on medication.

Cardiomyopathy is a condition where the heart muscle becomes weakened, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood efficiently. Common symptoms are feeling tired, experiencing shortness of breath, and finding it challenging to exercise or maintain usual levels of activity. As the condition progresses, it can deteriorate further and may eventually result in heart failure.

However, the researchers pointed out one crucial detail. Although the rise in risk percentage may seem concerning, the actual occurrence of cardiomyopathy remained quite rare in both groups throughout the 10-year study. After ten years of using stimulants, only 0.72% of patients were found to have developed cardiomyopathy, compared to 0.53% of individuals who weren’t on these medications.

“You can have almost 2,000 patients on these medications for a year, and you might only cause one of them to have cardiomyopathy that they otherwise would not have had, but if you leave them on it for 10 years, 1 in 500 will happen,” explained Pauline Gerard, the study’s lead author and a second-year medical student attending the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

So, Gerard underscored how, when broken down into straightforward figures, the risk remains quite minimal – even over a long duration. She also said these findings shouldn’t fundamentally alter the way doctors decide to prescribe stimulants or the manner in which they evaluate patients before prescribing.

“I don’t think this is a reason to stop prescribing these medications. There’s very little increased risk of these medications over the long term; it’s a real risk, but it’s small,” Gerard noted.

Milan – – illustrative purposes only

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