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Adult ADHD Linked to a Greatly Increased Risk of Numerous Heart Diseases

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Research published in World Psychiatry cites a significant correlation between adults with ADHD and numerous heart diseases. It was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Brain Foundation, the Swedish Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, and the Swedish Society for Medical Research

“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, a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institute. “When we accounted for other well-established risk factors for CVDs [cardiovascular diseases], the association weakened but still remained significant, which indicates that ADHD is an independent risk factor for a wide range of cardiovascular diseases.”

According to SciTechDaily reporting on this study, “The risks for all kinds of cardiovascular diseases were increased, but especially high for cardiac arrest, hemorrhagic stroke, and peripheral vascular diseases. The link was somewhat stronger in males than in women. Some psychiatric comorbidities, particularly food and substance use problems, elevated the risk of cardiovascular disease in patients with ADHD dramatically. Stimulants and other psychiatric drugs, such as antidepressants and anxiety medications, had no effect on the relationship between ADHD and cardiovascular disease.

The researchers note that due to the observational nature of the study, the findings cannot establish a causal relationship.”
“Clinicians need 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, Örebro University, and affiliated researcher at Karolinska Institute.

While a significant correlation was cited in the study, SciTechDaily notes, “The researchers note the study has some limitations, including a lack of data on some lifestyle-related factors, such as diet and physical activity, that could impact the association.”

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Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child states, “executive function skills help people make more positive choices about nutrition and exercise; to resist pressure to take risks, try drugs, or have unprotected sex; and to be more conscious of safety for ourselves and our children. Having good executive function primes our biological systems and coping skills to respond well to stress.”

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