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Recent research suggests that adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder may have a higher risk of developing dementia. A recent cohort study emphasizes the need for clinicians to monitor symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in older patients.

  • Adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is found to be associated with an increased risk of dementia.
  • Dementia occurred in a larger percentage of participants with ADHD disorder than those without.
  • Psychostimulant medications did not clearly correlate with an elevated dementia risk.

ADHD, typically associated with children, also presents in adults. While around 5% of children with ADHD continue to meet its criteria in adulthood, representing 3% of adult ADHD cases, the neurodevelopmental disorder’s potential ties to dementia have remained less explored. Given ADHD’s comorbidities, such as depression and hypertension, which are established dementia risk factors, recognizing the potential link between adult ADHD and dementia may be crucial.

Decoding the Data: Association of Adult ADHD With Dementia

According to a study published in JAMA Network Open, out of 109,218 participants observed over 17.2 years, 730 individuals (0.7%) were diagnosed with adult ADHD. Notably, 13.2% of these ADHD-diagnosed participants later developed dementia, compared to 7.0% of those without an ADHD diagnosis. Even after adjusting for potential confounding factors, adult ADHD diagnosis was linked with a 2.77-fold increased risk of dementia.

Translating Findings to Clinical Practice

The findings of this study hold significance for clinicians and healthcare providers. Given that adult ADHD might be indicative of reduced cognitive and brain reserves, consistent monitoring of older patients for ADHD symptoms becomes key.

In addition, while the study found that psychostimulant medications typically used to treat ADHD did not show a clear association with increased dementia risk, further research is required. For clinicians, understanding the potential effects of these medications in old age may be helpful in providing holistic care.

Keeping a Close Watch

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The study underscores the importance of assessing ADHD in elderly patients, given its association with increased dementia risk. For healthcare providers, this knowledge can guide more targeted screening processes and patient discussions, potentially leading to earlier interventions and improved patient outcomes.

Source:

Levine, S. Z., Rotstein, A., Kodesh, A., Sandin, S., Lee, B. K., Weinstein, G., Beeri, M. S., & Reichenberg, A. (2023). Adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and the risk of dementia. JAMA Network Open, 6(10), e2338088. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.38088