Adults with ADHD 3 times more likely to develop dementia, study warns

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — A concerning new study reveals adults dealing with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to develop dementia. Rutgers University scientists followed over 100,000 older adults in Israel for 17 years to investigate the potential connection between ADHD and dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease — the most common form of dementia.

Although more than three percent of adults in the United States have ADHD, there has been limited research focusing on this specific group.

“By determining if adults with ADHD are at higher risk for dementia and if medications and/or lifestyle changes can affect risks, the outcomes of this research can be used to better inform caregivers and clinicians,” says study co-author Michal Schnaider Beeri, director of the Herbert and Jacqueline Krieger Klein Alzheimer’s Research Center at Rutgers Brain Health Institute, the Krieger Klein Endowed Chair in Neurodegeneration Research at BHI, and a faculty member of the Rutgers Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research, in a university release.

The study examined data from a national sample of over 100,000 individuals tracked from 2003 to 2020. Researchers analyzed the incidence of dementia in both groups, those with and without ADHD, as they aged. Even after accounting for other dementia risk factors like cardiovascular conditions, researchers found that adults with ADHD were nearly three times more likely to develop dementia.

Woman thinking, scratching head, ADHD, ideas, confused, focus
(© pathdoc – stock.adobe.com)

Researchers suggest that ADHD in adults may create a neurological condition that reduces their ability to compensate for cognitive decline later in life.

“Physicians, clinicians and caregivers who work with older adults should monitor ADHD symptoms and associated medications,” says study senior author Abraham Reichenberg, a professor at the Department of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Additionally, researchers suggest that ADHD treatment involving psychostimulants may help reduce the risk of dementia in adults with ADHD.  Psychostimulants are known to alter the course of cognitive decline. However, researchers emphasized the need for future studies to delve deeper into the impact of medications on patients with ADHD and how they might affect the risk of dementia.

“Symptoms of attention deficit and hyperactivity in old age shouldn’t be ignored and should be discussed with physicians,” notes Stephen Levine, a professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Haifa.

The study is published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

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Comments

  1. Yes, of course we are more likely to develop dementia!
    That is why I never miss having two cups of strong coffee.
    Anyway some might say we ADHDers have dementia already, and always have.
    What can we do?
    Just keep on like always — trying to remain sane.

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