A new report reveals that ADHD drugs like Ritalin, Adderall, and Concerta, may cause significant heart difficulties in some children. The study, which appeared in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, followed 714,000 children in Denmark, born from 1990 to 1999, for an average of 9.5 years. Of those, 8,300 were diagnosed with ADHD after age 5. Of those with ADHD, a little more than one percent had heart problems such as high blood pressure, cardiac arrest, irregular heartbeat or general cardiovascular disease. When the researchers controlled for differences in the total population in the study, they found that those children who took methylphenidates such as Ritalin or Concerta (even if they weren’t diagnosed with ADHD), had about twice the risk of suffering heart problems.
This study underscores the necessity of looking at non-drug alternatives to treat ADHD first before going on to consider the more serious intervention of stimulant drugs. In my book The Myth of the A.D.H.D. Child: 101 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Behavior and Attention Span without Drugs, Labels, or Coercion, I describe 101 non-drug strategies that parents should consider before they put their children on behavior-controlling drugs. These strategies include: exercise, hands-on learning, a high protein breakfast, martial arts, focusing techniques, relaxation methods, a stimulating school curriculum, and cutting down on television and other media.