The controversy over cardiac testing before ADHD treatment begins

Stimulant medications like those often prescribed for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) raise blood pressure and heart rate, and some drugs carry warning labels for patients with heart problems. Two professional organizations are at odds over whether routine electrocardiogram (ECG) testing is necessary before a child starts taking a medication for ADHD, reports the October 2008 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter.

The controversy is about whether routine electrocardiogram (ECG) testing is necessary before a child starts taking ADHD medication. ECG measures the electrical activity of the heart. In April 2008, the American Heart Association (AHA) released a statement recommending that it was reasonable—although not mandatory—for clinicians to consider ordering an ECG in children diagnosed with ADHD before beginning treatments with stimulants or other medications.

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