Adult ADHD linked to high risk of cardiov

Adults with ADHD have a greater risk of developing a number of cardiovascular diseases than those without the condition, according to a large observational study led by researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Örebro University in Sweden. The researchers say the findings, published in the journal World psychiatrythey emphasize the need to monitor the cardiovascular health of people with ADHD.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders, with an overall prevalence of about 2.5% in adults. It often exists alongside other psychiatric and physical conditions, some of which have been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). But whether ADHD is independently associated with general and specific cardiovascular disease has not received as much attention.

In the current study, researchers sought to unmask the correlation between ADHD and about 20 different cardiovascular diseases when separated from other known risk factors such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, smoking, sleep problems, and mental disorders.

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

The findings are based on data from the national register of more than five million Swedish adults, including about 37,000 people with ADHD. After an average of 11.8 years of follow-up, 38 percent of individuals with ADHD had at least one diagnosis of cardiovascular disease, compared with 24 percent of those without ADHD.

The risks were high for all types of cardiovascular disease and especially high for cardiac arrest, hemorrhagic stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. The association was slightly stronger in men than in women. Some psychiatric comorbidities, especially eating and substance use disorders, significantly increased the risk of cardiovascular disease in people with ADHD. Treatment with stimulants and other psychiatric drugs, such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, did not materially affect the association between ADHD and cardiovascular disease.

The researchers note that due to the observational nature of the study, the results cannot establish a causal relationship.

“Clinicians need to carefully consider psychiatric comorbidity and lifestyle factors to help reduce CVD risk in people 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 latest study. author Henrik Larsson, professor at the School of Medical Sciences at Örebro University and affiliated researcher at Karolinska Institutet.

The researchers note that the study has some limitations, including a lack of data on some lifestyle factors, such as diet and physical activity, that could affect the association.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Brain Foundation, the Swedish Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare and the Swedish Society for Medical Research.

publication: “Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease: a nationwide population-based cohort study.” Lin Li, Zheng Chang, Jiangwei Sun, Miguel Garcia-Argibay, Ebba Du Rietz, Maja Dobrosavljevic, Isabell Brikell, Tomas Jernberg, Marco Solmi, Samuel Cortese, Henrik Larsson, World psychiatryonline 8 September 2022, doi: 10.1002/wps.21020

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