TUESDAY, Sept. 20, 2022 (HealthDay News) — New research suggests that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can cause more than just psychiatric complications: adults with ADHD are also more likely to develop certain types of cardiovascular disease.
“Clinicians need to carefully consider psychiatric comorbidities and lifestyle factors to reduce CVD [cardiovascular disease] risk in people with ADHD, but we also need more research to explore likely biological mechanisms, such as common genetic components for ADHD and cardiovascular disease,” said lead researcher Lin Li. Karolinska Institute in Sweden.
This research cannot prove what causes ADHD Cardiovascular diseaseit’s just that the two conditions appear to be related, the researchers noted.
Lee added that other factors may shed light on the link between ADHD and cardiovascular disease.
“We found that psychiatric comorbidity, particularly substance use and eating disorders, may partially explain the association between ADHD and cardiovascular disease,” she said.
“But we don’t have detailed information about lifestyle factors, such as smoking and physical activity, that may also be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease among adults with ADHD,” Lee said. “Further research is also needed to see if genetic factors can explain the link.”
Lee also noted that medications used to treat ADHD symptoms do not reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease among those with the condition.
For the study, researchers collected data on more than 5 million adults, 37,000 of whom had ADHD. On average, during the 12-year follow-up, 38% of those with ADHD developed cardiovascular disease, compared with 23.5% of those without ADHD.
The risks are especially high among those with ADHD cardiac arrest, hemorrhagic stroke and diseases of peripheral vessels. The association was stronger among men than women, and eating disorders and substance abuse also increased the odds of cardiovascular disease among people with ADHD.
The findings were published on September 8 in the journal World psychiatry.
One American heart expert, who was not involved in the study, noted that ADHD is only a recent diagnosis.
“The reason the connection between ADHD and heart disease has not been well understood is that the rate of diagnosis has increased dramatically in just the last 45 years. Now people at the age of 45 start developing coronary heart disease at an accelerated pace,” explained Dr. Benjamin Hirsch. , a cardiologist at Northwell Health in Great Neck, New York
The relationship between ADHD and cardiovascular disease is complex, but certainly involves the effects of emotional trauma from ADHD, long-term amphetamine use and behaviors such as increased smoking, he said.
“What is overwhelmingly crystal clear from the study is that these patients should see their cardiologist annually,” Hirsch advised. “ADHD itself is already a risk factor for heart disease; we need to control the risk of ADHD and other risk factors very tightly.’
Also interestingly, the effects on cardiovascular disease were not actually attenuated by use ADHD medicationincluding stimulants, he said.
“Effective and responsible treatment of ADHD is essential to improve their quality of life at any age and to improve their health throughout life, although caution is still necessary when using stimulants,” Hirsch noted.
Also important in ADHD treatment is an emphasis on healthy coping behaviors. “For example, exercise has been shown time and time again to improve all ADHD symptoms,” he added.
To learn more about ADHD, see US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Lin Li, PhD, School of Health Sciences, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden, and PhD Student, Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institute, Sweden; Benjamin Hirsch, MD, cardiologist at Northwell Health, Great Neck, NY; World psychiatrySeptember 8, 2022