New research shows that taking medication for attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) for a year or longer could increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases in adults and children. The findings, published on November 22 in JAMA Psychiatry, found a link between using ADHD medication and a higher risk of high blood pressure and arterial disease.

Arterial disease, sometimes called artery disease, involves the blood vessels that affect the arteries of the body.

Based on findings, doctors should be vigilant in monitoring signs and symptoms of heart diseases, particularly in people taking higher doses of ADHD medications, says coauthor Le Zhang, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.

The risks found here are informative, but shouldn’t be overblown or scare patients into not taking their ADHD medications as directed, says David Goodman, MD, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore. “The message here is that patients and prescribers need to be aware of the risk so that it can be monitored and managed,” says Dr. Goodman, who was not involved in the study.

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