Study looks for possible link between ADHD and Alzheimer’s disease

Author: Ivanhoe News Service/Amy Oshier
Published: Updated:

More than 6.5 million people live with Alzheimer’s in the United States. More than 6 million children have Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD.

One is usually diagnosed later in life, while the other is earlier.

But could the two actually be linked?

The symptoms are surprisingly similar.

“There were instances that we, kind of, thought were senior moments and they were happening way too often,” Jim said.

For Emma, a teen with ADHD, it felt like her brain “wants to shut down and it doesn’t want to take in any more information.

ADHD symptoms range from carelessness to a lack of focus and forgetfulness. For Alzheimer’s, it’s poor judgment, a lack of focus and memory loss.

Now, a new study out of the University of Pittsburgh is looking at a possible link between the two.

“We found that, in fact, the people that have a higher genetic probability to have ADHD and also have the pathology of Alzheimer in the brain,” said Dr. Tharick Pascoal, a psychiatrist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

The study is the first to tie the genetic risk of ADHD to the chances of developing late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

By calculating each person’s ADHDPRS or polygenic risk score and matching it with that patient’s signs of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers showed that the higher the PRS score, the greater the chances of developing Alzheimer’s.

With the development of new treatments to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, knowing your risk factor before symptoms start could help millions of people live a longer, healthier life.

Researchers are planning larger, more comprehensive studies, including more research, to determine whether interventions to correct ADHD can influence the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in the future.

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