Kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) should be screened carefully for heart conditions—and given an electrocardiogram (ECG) in some cases—before they're given drugs, according to new recommendations from the American Heart Association. The concern: ADHD meds (such as Ritalin and Adderall) are typically stimulants and could potentially exacerbate an underlying heart condition, like an irregular heartbeat. Kids who are already on ADHD drugs should also be screened.
If your pediatrician suggests an ECG, there's no need to panic, says Robert Beekman, M.D., chair of the cardiology section of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The new recommendation is a cautious move meant to catch rare cases.