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Adult ADHD linked to dementia

25th January 2011

Adults who suffer from attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are three times as likely to develop a certain type of dementia, known as dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), according to a recent Argentinian study.

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Lead author Angel Golimstok said that 48% of the DLB patients who took part in her study had previously been diagnosed with adult ADHD.

After Alzheimer's disease, DLB is the second most common type of dementia in the elderly, accounting for about 10% of all dementia cases.

Golimstock said that people who had DLB displayed a similar set of symptoms to people who had Parkinson's disease, and sometimes experienced hallucinatory episodes.

ADHD is found in both children and adults, and symptoms include hyperactivity, compulsivity, and trouble paying attention to things.

For the study, the researchers gathered 360 people who had degenerative dementia and 149 seemingly healthy subjects.

While 109 of the study subjects had DLB, the other 251 had Alzheimer's disease.

People who took part in the study all what the researchers characterised as mild to moderate dementia.

Two neurologists, both of whom were unaware of the existence of the study, helped the researchers to ensure that people reported to have DLB or Alzheimer's were correctly diagnosed.

When making assessments about ADHD, the neurologists stayed true to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), recruiting the opinion of other neurologists when doubts arose about a particular diagnosis.

According to the authors of the study, theirs is the first piece of research to find a statistical link between ADHD and DLB.

The researchers said that there was clearly a process common to the development of ADHD during the lifespan and the development of DLB in old age.

Golimstock said that the rate of DLB sufferers found among people who also had ADHD was more than three times average.

While there is currently no definite way to diagnose ADHD neurologically, without the help of a psychiatric professional, the latest research focuses on the role the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) plays in reducing people's ability to focus on tasks.

DLB is relatively easy to diagnose based on brain scans, because it involves the development of Lewy bodies within the brain.

Lewy bodies are clumps of protein that solidify and stop the brain from producing certain types of connections.

 

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