ADHD heart tests - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

ADHD heart tests

HEALTHLINE (MEDSTAR) -- To test or not to test. Parents of kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, want to know if their children should be screened for heart problems.

Rare deaths linked to treatment with stimulant medications have raised concerns. Vince Sherry explains the controversy and what the experts recommend.


Jeremy Kuba has ADHD. After a year on medication to treat it, doctors found an electrical problem in his heart that needs monitoring.


"When he first was diagnosed, they continued him on the medication. They kept telling me that they thought it was probably unrelated. But about a year later he kept progressing and getting worse and then they took him off and said he couldn't be on anything like that anymore," says Roslyn Kuba.


It's a growing debate. Is the 11-year-old's heart problem a side effect of the ADHD drug or was the defect there all along?

"I honestly don't know. And I feel I don't know because there was no heart test prior to putting him on the medication," says Roslyn Kuba.


Here's where the american heart association stands. In a recent statement, experts say ADHD may be more prevalent in kids with heart disease. For those with risk factors, it's reasonable to consider an electrocardiogram before prescribing ADHD drugs.


"It's a reasonable test to get as per the guidelines, but it's not a required test. And in the absence of any problems on physical exam and in the absence of any family history, it's reasonable to not get an ECG," says Paul Matherne, M.D.

As a pediatric cardiologist, Doctor Matherne sees a lot of these kids. He says the key is to weigh each child's heart health risk against the drug's benefit.


"And the risk of having a problem on these medicines, for most children, is vanishingly small." says Paul Matherne, M.D.

Even so, some families feel it's better to be safe than sorry.

"It's one little test and you never have to second guess it. We will be second guessing this for the rest of our life now," says Roslyn Kuba. 

This is Vince Sherry reporting.

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