Cardiovascular events and death in children exposed and unexposed to ADHD agents

Hedi Schelleman, Warren B. Bilker, Brian L. Strom, Stephen E. Kimmel, Craig Newcomb, James P. Guevara, Gregory W. Daniel, Mark J. Cziraky, Sean Hennessy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to compare the rate of severe cardiovascular events and death in children who use attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications versus nonusers. PATIENTS AND METHODS: We performed a large cohort study using data from 2 administrative databases. All children aged 3 to 17 years with a prescription for an amphetamine, atomoxetine, or methylphenidate were included and matched with up to 4 nonusers on the basis of data source, gender, state, and age. Cardiovascular events were validated using medical records. Proportional hazards regression was used to calculated hazard ratios. RESULTS: We identified 241 417 incident users (primary cohort). No statistically significant difference between incident users and nonusers was observed in the rate of validated sudden death or ventricular arrhythmia (hazard ratio: 1.60 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.19-13.60]) or all-cause death (hazard ratio: 0.76 [95% CI: 0.52-1.12]). None of the strokes identified during exposed time to ADHD medications were validated. No myocardial infarctions were identified in ADHD medication users. No statistically significant difference between prevalent users and nonusers (secondary cohort) was observed (hazard ratios for validated sudden death or ventricular arrhythmia: 1.43 [95% CI: 0.31-6.61]; stroke: 0.89 [95% CI: 0.11-7.11]; stroke/myocardial infarction: 0.72 [95% CI: 0.09-5.57]; and all-cause death: 0.77 [95% CI: 0.56-1.07). CONCLUSIONS: The rate of cardiovascular events in exposed children was very low and in general no higher than that in unexposed control subjects. Because of the low number of events, we have limited ability to rule out relative increases in rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1102-1110
Number of pages9
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


  • Adolescents
  • Amphetamines
  • Atomoxetine
  • Cardiovascular
  • Children
  • Death
  • Methylphenidate


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