New AHA Recommendations for ADHD Children

The American Heart Association issued a scientific statement recommending that children be screened for heart disease before being prescribed stimulant medication.

Wednesday April 23rd - 12:08pm

A new scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA) was published in the newest issue of Circulation, the AHA Journal.

In the statement, Dr. Victoria Vetter and her colleagues offer recommendations for finding and monitoring children with heart disease, who may be at risk for sudden death if administered a stimulant medication.

The guidelines recommend asking about patient and family history, specifically looking for a history of chest pain, high blood pressure, fainting, or a heart attack or sudden death in a young relative. The recommendations also include a physical exam and an Electrocardiogram (ECG) for any child being prescribed a stimulant medication.

The AHA statement also provides guidelines for the continued monitoring of children on stimulant medications, whether their initial assessment suggested the possibility of heart disease or not.

The AHA scientific statement, which follows an FDA move last year to provide warnings of "sudden death in patients who have heart problems or heart defects" on stimulant medication packaging, has raised some controversy with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The AAP has stated that the AHA guidelines will be difficult to implement, and that they should not have been made without consulting the AAP first, as its members will be the ones responsible for following the recommendations.

It remains unclear how many pediatricians will begin implementing the AHA guidelines, and how useful ECGs would be if used for all children being prescribed a stimulant.

To read the full AHA scientific statement, visit

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