Harvard Heart Letter

Ask the doctor: Are medications for ADHD safe for the heart?

Ask the doctor

Are medications for ADHD safe for the heart?

Q. I am a fairly healthy 52-year-old man. For many years I have felt like I have ADHD. A recent work-up confirmed my suspicion. My doctor suggested I take Ritalin. Is that okay for the heart?

A. Good for you for following up on your feelings that you might have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Although this condition has been identified in children for decades, there's no reason to believe that it is limited to youngsters, or that ADHD symptoms simply disappear after adolescence.

You are actually part of a rapidly growing group. Mental health professionals are seeing more and more adults, including many in their 40s, 50s, and even 60s, who have chronic difficulty with organization, have trouble remembering appointments or obligations, or feel fidgety or compelled to do things, as if they were driven by a motor. We are learning that ADHD in adulthood can contribute to tremendous occupational, personal, and financial strain and loss.

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