According to a large new study, a staggering number of neurological, respiratory, and musculoskeletal illnesses appear to be connected to ADHD in adults. ADHD in adults is still severely understudied, particularly in terms of how the psychiatric disorder affects the rest of a patient’s general health. However, this may change now that researchers have found a variety of related illnesses and risk factors linked to adult ADHD.
According to a major register-based study published in The Lancet Psychiatry, adults with ADHD are at a higher risk of a variety of health illnesses, including the nervous system, pulmonary, musculoskeletal, and metabolic diseases.
“Identifying co-occurring physical diseases may have important implications for treating adults with ADHD and for benefiting the long-term health and quality of life of patients,” says lead author Ebba Du Rietz, a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet.
ADHD is a prevalent neuropsychiatric disorder marked by inattention, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity that is usually treated with stimulant medication (methylphenidates or amphetamines).
Previous research suggests that individuals with ADHD are at greater risk for a variety of physical health issues, but only a small number of these connections have been thoroughly investigated. Furthermore, there are few precise treatment guidelines for people with ADHD and co-occurring physical conditions. Karolinska Institutet researchers have now investigated probable links between ADHD and a variety of physical disorders in maturity, as well as whether hereditary or environmental variables are involved.
We now investigated probable links between ADHD and a variety of physical disorders in maturity, as well as whether hereditary or environmental variables are involved. These findings are significant since stimulant therapy necessitates careful monitoring in ADHD patients with co-occurring heart disease, hypertension, and liver failure.Henrik Larsson
Over four million individuals (full-sibling and maternal half-sibling pairs) born between 1932-1995 were identified through Swedish registers and followed between 1973-2013. Clinical diagnoses were obtained from the Swedish National Patient Register. The researchers examined the risk of 35 different physical conditions in individuals with ADHD compared to those without, and in siblings of individuals with ADHD compared to siblings of those without.
Except for arthritis, people with ADHD showed a statistically significant elevated risk of all physical conditions studied. The strongest links were discovered for neurological, pulmonary, musculoskeletal, and metabolic illnesses. Alcohol-related liver illness, sleep disorders, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), epilepsy, fatty liver disease, and obesity were the most strongly connected with ADHD. ADHD was also found to be associated with a slightly higher risk of cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia.
With the exception of nervous system problems and age-related diseases, researchers explained that the increased risk was mostly explained by underlying genetic characteristics that contributed to both ADHD and the physical ailment. Full siblings of those with ADHD had a significantly greater incidence of most health issues.
“These findings are significant since stimulant therapy necessitates careful monitoring in ADHD patients with co-occurring heart disease, hypertension, and liver failure,” explains senior author Henrik Larsson, professor at rebro University and affiliated researcher at Karolinska Institutet.
With the exception of nervous system problems and age-related diseases, the elevated risk was generally explained by underlying genetic variables that contributed to both ADHD and physical disease. Full siblings of those with ADHD were at a significantly higher risk for the majority of physical problems.
ADHD has been associated to liver disease, sleep difficulties, obesity, epilepsy, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to the researchers (COPD). Adult ADHD appears to be associated with illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, cardiovascular disease, and others to a lesser level.
This is not to say that ADHD causes these problems or that anyone who has one of them is doomed to have another. However, understanding about the potential relationships is crucial because clinicians should theoretically be more conscious of numerous risk factors while treating ADHD, especially since doctors frequently prescribe stimulants.
“These findings are significant since stimulant therapy necessitates careful monitoring in ADHD patients with co-occurring heart disease, hypertension, and liver failure,” stated senior study author and rebro University epidemiologist Henrik Larsson in a press statement.
The researchers were unable to identify all of the underlying causes of these conditions coexisting, but they did begin to unearth some correlations — the same genetic variables appear to contribute to both ADHD and certain physical conditions, for example — and they want to learn more in future studies. The researchers’ next goal is to investigate the underlying mechanisms and risk factors of ADHD, as well as the influence of ADHD on the management and prognosis of physical disorders in adulthood.