Adults with ADHD face higher risk of heart disease, study finds

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A recent study led by scientists from Karolinska Institutet and Örebro University reveals that adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are at a greater risk of experiencing various heart-related problems compared to those who do not have ADHD.

The study was published in the journal World Psychiatry and adds a new layer of understanding to the challenges faced by adults with ADHD.

The Findings: Twice the Risk of Heart Problems

ADHD is a fairly common condition, affecting roughly 2.5% of adults worldwide. While it’s often associated with issues like focus and hyperactivity, new research shows that ADHD can also have a significant impact on heart health.

According to Lin Li, the study’s first author and a researcher at Karolinska Institutet, adults with ADHD were “more than twice as likely” to develop at least one form of cardiovascular disease compared to those without the disorder.

The study used data from more than five million adults in Sweden, including about 37,000 people who have ADHD.

After roughly 12 years of following these individuals, the researchers found that 38% of people with ADHD had at least one cardiovascular issue, compared to only 24% of those without ADHD.

This risk was particularly high for certain conditions like cardiac arrest, stroke, and peripheral vascular diseases. The risk was also somewhat higher in men than women.

The researchers did consider other factors known to contribute to heart problems, like smoking, obesity, and sleep issues.

Even when these were taken into account, the link between ADHD and heart problems remained, although it was somewhat weaker.

What It Means for Doctors and Patients

Henrik Larsson, one of the study’s authors, emphasized the need for medical professionals to be vigilant about the potential heart risks faced by adults with ADHD.

The study shows that healthcare providers need to consider other possible health issues, particularly around eating and substance use disorders, that could make heart problems more likely for people with ADHD.

However, it’s worth noting that this study doesn’t prove ADHD causes these heart issues. The research was observational, meaning it can show a connection but not a direct cause-and-effect relationship.

Limitations and Next Steps

The study did have some limitations. It didn’t account for lifestyle factors like diet and physical activity, which can also influence heart health.

So what’s next? According to the researchers, more study is needed to understand why adults with ADHD face these increased heart risks.

Understanding the biological reasons behind this connection is crucial for both doctors and patients.

In summary, while ADHD is often associated with behavioral and attention issues, this study indicates that its impact might be far broader and could include a heightened risk for a variety of heart conditions.

As our understanding of ADHD continues to evolve, so too will the approaches for managing and treating this complex condition, now with an eye on cardiovascular health.

If you care about ADHD, please read studies about 5 signs you have ADHD, not laziness, and new drug to reduce daydreaming, fatigue, and brain sluggishness in ADHD.

If you care about heart health, please read studies that vitamin K helps cut heart disease risk by a third, and a year of exercise reversed worrisome heart failure.

The research findings can be found in World Psychiatry.

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