Now, new research shows that adult ADHD can affect the brain and is linked to a higher chance of developing dementia. A study published in JAMA Network Open A diagnosis of ADHD as an adult was reported to be associated with a 2.77-fold increased risk of dementia.
The study only showed an association and did not tell us whether ADHD was a direct cause of cognitive decline. But the results suggest that “if you have attention deficit disorder, you may have more trouble with normal brain aging.” Sandra Black, a cognitive neurologist at Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto, who was not involved in the study. “It adds another risk factor.”
This research highlights the importance of seeking care – and the need for more research. Treatment with psychostimulant drugs may reduce the risk, he said Stephen Levine, is a professor at the University of Haifa School of Public Health in Israel and lead author of the study. Lifestyle changes such as better sleep and social engagement can reduce the risk of dementia.
To examine the link between adult-onset ADHD and dementia, Levin and colleagues analyzed the electronic health records of 109,218 Israeli adults aged 51 to 70. Participants were not diagnosed with ADHD or dementia at the start of the study.
After 17 years, when the researchers followed the participants, 730 adults (0.7 percent) received a diagnosis of ADHD and 7,726 adults (7.1 percent) had a diagnosis of dementia. Notably, of the 730 participants with adult-onset ADHD, 13.2 percent (96 participants) were diagnosed with dementia. In contrast, of 108,388 participants without adult-onset ADHD, just 7 percent (7,630 participants) developed dementia.
Interestingly, adults with ADHD who took psychostimulant drugs such as Ritalin or Adderall had no increased risk of developing dementia compared to those who did not take the drugs. Only 22.3 percent of those with ADHD had taken psychostimulant medication at any time.
A strength of the research is that it takes 18 confounding factors into account. “That’s at the heart of the question,” the new study said, whether having ADHD confers dementia risk. Sarah BeckerA postdoctoral research associate at the University of Calgary, he was not involved in the study.
For example, adults with ADHD are more likely to smoke and have comorbid health conditions such as high blood pressure and depression, which are also known risk factors for dementia. But even when controlling for these other factors, there is a higher risk associated with adult-onset ADHD and dementia.
A few studies have investigated the relationship between ADHD and dementia in adults. A 2023 Systematic ReviewBecker and her colleagues identified only seven previous studies examining the link between ADHD and neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia, most of which found that adult-onset ADHD confers a higher dementia risk.
Parents of children with ADHD should not panic. The research only examined older adults, and couldn’t extrapolate how ADHD in earlier life might affect dementia risk, Levin said. Just about Half of childhood ADHD ADHD continues to be diagnosed in adolescence, and has been Discussion About whether childhood ADHD is different from adult ADHD.
What is clear, the researchers said, is that more research is needed on ADHD in adults. “Older adults with ADHD are relatively poorly understood,” Becker said.
A estimated at 3 percent ADHD exists in adults, but the majority of research focuses on childhood ADHD.
“We don’t know much about ADHD in adults, and as a society we’re thinking, ‘Shouldn’t we know about the disease system?’ We have to ask ourselves that,” Levin said.
Reduced ‘brain availability’ and increased need for ADHD monitoring
It is not yet known what biological mechanisms may account for the association between ADHD and dementia, but adults with ADHD may have less of the later.”brain presence” or the ability to maintain cognitive function and compensate for age-related changes.
Block said that disease in the brain associated with attention deficit disorder dementias may make people more susceptible to biological changes.
Until now, “no one has really looked at the biological basis of this,” Becker said. Because ADHD is linked to bad Vascular healthBecker and his colleagues are currently investigating whether specific vascular changes in the brain are linked to an increased risk for dementia.
The new study also indicated that both ADHD and dementia are less likely to be diagnosed in older adults. ADHD in particular is not something doctors or patients suspect. ADHD and dementia have some similarities in their cognitive symptoms, which can easily be conflated: for example, if one doesn’t pay attention to what their spouse is saying, they are less likely to remember what they said. Identifying and diagnosing attention problems early on can allow those struggling with such problems to seek treatment for chronic conditions.
“Policymakers, caregivers, patients and clinicians, as well as people with or without ADHD, who suspect ADHD should consider reliable surveillance for adult ADHD,” Levin said.
How to reduce the risk of dementia
It’s understandable to worry about developing dementia, but “everyone with ADHD is going to develop dementia in adulthood,” Becker said. “If you take care of yourself like everyone else in the general population, you can reduce this risk.”
Although the study’s results provide a “positive indication” for the long-term effects of psychostimulant drugs, it’s too early to recommend them without further clinical trials, especially when weighing the added cardiovascular risks in the elderly, Levin said.
“If psychostimulant drugs have the potential to reduce the risk of dementia in individuals with ADHD, we need to provide evidence for additional research to confirm that potential,” Levin said.
But there are other well-studied ways for adults with and without ADHD to reduce their dementia risk.
A 2020 The main study The Lancet Commission highlighted 12 modifiable factors for dementia that, if addressed, can reduce the risk of dementia by up to 40 percent. Some of these factors include hearing loss, excessive alcohol consumption and smoking.
Other lifestyle changes like physical activity, restorative sleep, eating a Mediterranean diet and being socially engaged can make a big difference, Black said.
“Be aware of risk factors. Take good care of your health. Take good care of your brain, that’s what we’re telling everyone to do,” Becker said.
Do you have a question about human behavior or neuroscience? Email [email protected] That can be answered in a future column.
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