Cardiovascular Effects of ADHD Therapies: JACC Review Topic of the Week

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2020 Aug 18;76(7):858-866. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2020.05.081.


Although the prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been stable over the past 3 decades, prescriptions of sympathomimetic stimulants have steadily increased in the United States. This study consisted of a systematic review of PubMed articles screened for ADHD medications and potential cardiovascular toxicity as well as nondrug strategies for managing ADHD. The cumulative body of data showed that ADHD medications cause modest elevations in resting heart rate and blood pressure. Other adverse effects reported with ADHD stimulants included arrhythmia, nonischemic cardiomyopathy, Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, and sudden death. However, such reports did not imply causation, and there was a paucity of randomized trial evidence addressing long-term safety of ADHD medications, particularly among adults. Further studies are essential to clarify the risks and benefits of ADHD stimulant medications and to explore nonpharmacological options, including regular exercise and omega-3 fatty acids, which could be helpful for improving ADHD symptoms.

Keywords: ADHD; amphetamine salts; amphetamines; arrhythmia; atomoxetine; attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; cardiomyopathy; cardiotoxicity; exercise; lisdexamfetamine; methylphenidate; omega-3; sudden death.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity* / drug therapy
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity* / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / chemically induced
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular System / drug effects
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / pharmacology*
  • Humans


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants