Paradoxically, a drug like Concerta, which can be immensely helpful in the treatment of juvenile and adult ADD and ADHD, can also be very dangerous. Concerta is an extended release tablet with methylfenidate HCI as the active ingredient, which is a stimulant. Because it can be abused or lead to dependence, it is a federally controlled substance. Serious health dangers have been reported with the use of Concerta and other amphetamine medicines.
Dangers for Those with Heart Problems
Concerta and other stimulant medicines have been known to cause sudden death in heart patients or those with heart defects, according to the Medication Guide provided with Concerta, which is based on First DataBank information. (See Resources section.) Stroke and heart attack in adults, and increased heart rate and blood pressure have also been reported. Your doctor should check carefully for heart problems before starting you or your child on Concerta and regularly recheck your blood pressure and heart rate. If you have a known history or family history of heart problems, defects or high blood pressure, tell your doctor.
Dangers for Those With Psychiatric Problems
If you or your child have any mental problems or a family history of depression, bipolar illness or suicide, Concerta may be harmful to you. This drug has been known to cause thought problems and new or worsening behaviors. It has caused the onset or worsening of bipolar illness and hostile and aggressive behavior. In children and teenagers, new psychotic symptoms have been reported, such as manic symptoms, as well as hearing voices and seeing or believing things that are not real. (See the Medication Guide information in Resources.) Call your doctor right away if any new or worsening mental symptoms occur.
Dangers for Those With Central Nervous System Problems
Concerta is a central nervous symptom stimulant. It should not be taken by adults or children who are agitated, tense or anxious. Also, people with a family history of Tourette's syndrome or tics should either avoid Concerta or use only a low dose, and be closely monitored.
Dangers for Those with Seizures
Tell your doctor if you or your child have had seizures, or an abnormal brain wave test (EEG). Concerta may trigger abnormal brain activity in some. In addition, anyone who has taken or is taking a monoamine oxidant inhibitor or MAOI, or has taken one within 14 days, should not take Concerta, for the same reason.
Other Conditions That Make Concerta Dangerous
People with kidney or liver problems, or with stomach, esophagus or large or small intestine problems may be at risk when taking Concerta. Anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding needs to know that Concerta can cause dependence and danger in your unborn child or baby. Stopping Concerta will cause withdrawal symptoms in the fetus or baby. Children under 6 should not take Concerta as it has not been tested in this age bracket.
Dangerous or Troublesome Side Effects of Concerta
Dangers include the slowing of growth in both height and weight in children taking Concerta. Eyesight changes such as blurring of vision may occur, as well as seizures in those with a history of seizures. Blockages of the stomach, esophagus or intestines may occur in those who have narrowing of these organs. Common, troublesome side effects that are not necessarily dangerous include stomachache, headache, decreased appetite, trouble sleeping, nervousness or dizziness. You may not experience any of the dangers or side effects of taking Concerta, but until you and your doctor know how it will affect you, it is wise to start with a low dose and close monitoring.