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ADHD Drugs Sent 2500 Children to Hospital - Emergency Visits Include Heart Attacks Palpitations and Sudden Death - ADHD Symptoms

May 25th 2006

ADHD Drugs Sent 2500 Children to Hospital - Emergency Visits Include Heart Attacks Palpitations and Sudden Death - Symptoms for ADHD


The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that more than 2,500 children went to the hospital emergency room in 2004 after taking a stimulant used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  According to the CDC, most were admitted because of an accidental overdose. 

About 1 in 4 of these children experienced serious heart or blood pressure events including palpitations, chest pain, or fainting. Regulators are considering stronger warnings on the drugs because of the possible link to sudden death and heart risks.  In some cases, the children accidentally took someone else’s medication, according to Rob Waters of Bloomberg.


The data came from a review of emergency room visits at 64 hospitals between August 2003 and 2005.  They found that 188 events were related to ADHD drugs.  From this, the researchers extrapolated that there must have been about 3,075 visits nationally among both children and adults.

The report estimates that there are 3.3 million children and nearly 1.5 million adults who take the drugs.  There have been 25 deaths linked to the drugs with 19 involving children between 1999 through 2003.  This is according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  There were 54 other cases of serious heart problems, including heart attacks and strokes, were also reported, although some of these may have had previous heart problems.


In February, an FDA advisory panel recommended a black box warning for these ADHD drugs: Adderall and Adderall XR, which are made by Shire Plc ; Strattera by Eli Lilly and Co. ; and Ritalin and Focalin by Novartis AG.  This is the most severe warning that can be issued an approved drug.  In March another panel said the warnings were not necessary because it might dissuade doctors and patients from taking the drugs. 

Waters reported that Steven Nissen, interim chairman of the department of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, said “This is what I was concerned about at the first advisory committee, that what we were seeing was the tip of the iceberg."


The CDC has put together a list of symptoms that could indicated your child has ADHD.

A. Six or more of the following symptoms of inattention have been present for at least 6 months to a point that is disruptive and inappropriate for developmental level:


  1. Often does not give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities.
  2. Often has trouble keeping attention on tasks or play activities.
  3. Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
  4. Often does not follow instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions).
  5. Often has trouble organizing activities.
  6. Often avoids, dislikes, or doesn't want to do things that take a lot of mental effort for a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
  7. Often loses things needed for tasks and activities (e.g. toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools).
  8. Is often easily distracted.
  9. Is often forgetful in daily activities.

B. Six or more of the following symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity have been present for at least 6 months to an extent that is disruptive and inappropriate for developmental level:


  1. Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat.
  2. Often gets up from seat when remaining in seat is expected.
  3. Often runs about or climbs when and where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may feel very restless).
  4. Often has trouble playing or enjoying leisure activities quietly.
  5. Is often "on the go" or often acts as if "driven by a motor".
  6. Often talks excessively.


  1. Often blurts out answers before questions have been finished.
  2. Often has trouble waiting one's turn.
  3. Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games).

                  I.      Some symptoms that cause impairment were present before age 7 years.

                             II.      Some impairment from the symptoms is present in two or more settings (e.g. at school/work and at home).

                          III.      There must be clear evidence of significant impairment in social, school, or work functioning.

                           IV.      The symptoms do not happen only during the course of a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Schizophrenia, or other Psychotic Disorder. The symptoms are not better accounted for by another mental disorder (e.g. Mood Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Dissociative Disorder, or a Personality Disorder).

Based on these criteria, three types of ADHD are identified:

  1. ADHD, Combined Type: if both criteria 1A and 1B are met for the past 6 months
  2. ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Type: if criterion 1A is met but criterion 1B is not met for the past six months
  3. ADHD, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type: if Criterion 1B is met but Criterion 1A is not met for the past six months.
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Dan Wilson
Best Syndication

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Keywords and Misspellings: ADD ADHD attention deficit disorder atention defecit attension dissorder

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                   Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:51 PM