By John Salak –
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a debilitating condition that impacts almost 10 percent of children in the United States but a sizeable percentage of adults. In fact, between 2.5 percent and 4.4 percent of adults have ADHD, depending on which group is keeping tabs.
Regardless of the percentage of those affected, this brain disorder undermines an individual’s ability to pay attention, sit still or even control their behavior, WebMD reports. While there is no cure, there are treatments to lessen its impact. That’s the good news. The bad news, especially for adults with ADHD, is that the condition may link to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Recent research out of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm reports that people with ADHD double their risk of heart disease.
“We found that adults with ADHD were more than twice as likely to develop at least one cardiovascular disease compared with those without ADHD,” reported Lin Li, the study’s first author. “When we accounted for other well-established risk factors for CVDs, the association weakened but remained significant, which indicates that ADHD is an independent risk factor for a wide range of cardiovascular diseases.”
Based on a review of data from more than five million Swedish adults, the institute’s findings included some 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 who didn’t suffer from the condition.
Men had a slightly higher associated cardiovascular risk than women. While the researchers are confident they correctly identified the high-risk factor, the observational study precluded them from finding why people with ADHD fare worse than others from heart disease. The researchers also acknowledged the study’s limitations, including a lack of data on lifestyle-related factors such as diet and physical activity.
Nonetheless, the research can be a step in reducing cardiovascular disease rates in adults with ADHD.
“Clinicians need to carefully consider psychiatric comorbidity and lifestyle factors to help reduce the CVD risk in individuals with ADHD. We also need more research to explore plausible biological mechanisms, such as shared genetic components for ADHD and cardiovascular disease,” explained Henrik Larsson, the study’s last author.