Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder treatment: what are the long-term cardiovascular risks?

Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2015 Apr;14(4):543-51. doi: 10.1517/14740338.2015.1011620. Epub 2015 Feb 3.


Introduction: This drug safety review provides an update on the long-term cardiovascular risks of therapeutic stimulant class medication for children and adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Areas covered: Relevant literature on the long-term (defined as ≥ 12 months) cardiovascular effects of stimulant class medications for ADHD was sought using PubMed searches for clinical literature, epidemiological reports, as well as reviews of post-marketing data and clinical guidelines/consensus statements. Comparison was made to the non-stimulant atomoxetine.

Expert opinion: Long-term cardiovascular risks of stimulants for healthy children and adults with ADHD are limited to minor mean elevations in blood pressure (≤ 7 mmHg) and heart rate (≤ 10 bpm). In a sizeable minority of individuals these elevations are greater and/or reach a clinical threshold. Subjective complaints may also be anticipated during long-term treatment, yet without an increase in serious cardiac outcomes above background rates per age. Future research is needed on possible latent or cumulative cardiovascular risks in healthy individuals, as well as the longer-term cardiovascular safety in vulnerable populations.

Keywords: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; cardiovascular; stimulant.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atomoxetine Hydrochloride / administration & dosage
  • Atomoxetine Hydrochloride / adverse effects
  • Atomoxetine Hydrochloride / therapeutic use
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy*
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / administration & dosage
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / adverse effects*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Time Factors


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Atomoxetine Hydrochloride