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Adult ADHD linked to elevated risk of cardiovascular diseases, study suggested

by Pragati Singh

According to a major observational research, those with ADHD are at a higher risk of acquiring a variety of cardiovascular problems than those without the disorder.

With a global incidence of roughly 2.5 percent in adults, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most frequent neurodevelopmental diseases. It is frequently co-occurring with other mental and physical disorders, some of which have been related to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, whether ADHD is connected with general and particular cardiovascular illnesses has gotten less study.

The current study aimed to uncover the link between ADHD and 20 different cardiovascular illnesses when it was removed from other known risk factors such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, smoking, sleep issues, and mental disorders.

“We found that adults with ADHD were more than twice as likely to develop at least one cardiovascular disease, compared with those without ADHD,” says the study’s first author Lin Li, postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet. “When we accounted for other well-established risk factors for CVDs, the association weakened but still remained significant, which indicates that ADHD is an independent risk factor for a wide range of cardiovascular diseases.”

The findings are based on data from a national registry of over five million Swedish citizens, including 37,000 persons with ADHD. After an average of 11.8 years of follow-up, 38 percent of people with ADHD had at least one cardiovascular disease diagnosis, compared to 24 percent of people without ADHD.

The risks for all types of cardiovascular disorders were higher, but mainly for cardiac arrest, hemorrhagic stroke, and peripheral vascular diseases. The link was somewhat greater in males than in women. Some mental comorbidities, particularly food and drug use problems, elevated the risk of cardiovascular disease in patients with ADHD considerably.

Stimulants and other psychiatric treatments, such as antidepressants and anxiety medications, had no effect on the relationship between ADHD and cardiovascular disease.

The researchers point out that because the study was observational, the data cannot demonstrate a causal association.

“Clinicians needs to carefully consider psychiatric comorbidity and lifestyle factors to help reduce the CVD risk in individuals with ADHD, but we also need more research to explore plausible biological mechanisms, such as shared genetic components for ADHD and cardiovascular disease,” says the study’s last author Henrik Larsson, professor at the School of Medical Sciences, Orebro University, and affiliated researcher at Karolinska Institutet.

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