NEW YORK (AP) - The American Heart Association today recommended
children be screened for heart problems with an electrocardiogram
before taking drugs like Ritalin.
That drug is used to treat hyperactivity and attention-deficit
The association is based in Dallas.
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.
Government figures show about 2.5 million American children and
1.5 million adults take medication for attention-deficit
hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.
The heart group is now recommending a thorough exam, including a
family history and an EKG, before children are put on the drugs.