ADHD and risk of cardiovascular disease

Woman medicating himself at home medicine

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD as it is more commonly known, is a disabling condition affecting approximately 2.6 million people in the UK, of which 694,000 are children. Symptoms include restlessness, impulsiveness, and a strong difficulty in focussing or concentrating.

Although most cases are diagnosed in childhood, an increasing number of adults are being diagnosed with the condition, such that the number of adults receiving prescriptions for ADHD medication has risen seven-fold in the last decade.

Medication for ADHD is usually taken in the long term, and once patients have found benefit from it, they are often reluctant to stop it. However, recent research has shown that there is an inherent risk of cardiovascular disease associated with long-term ADHD medication use, and that the risk increases by about 4% year on year. High blood pressure and coronary artery disease were the biggest risks associated with ADHD medication.

Given this new evidence it would be prudent for patients on long-term ADHD medication to pay attention to all their cardiovascular risk factors and make any lifestyle modifications to keep their overall risk as low as possible. Personalisation of cardiovascular risk can also be undertaken with blood tests and imaging of the coronary and carotid arteries, and patients can keep an eye on their blood pressure at home using a monitor or a device such as the Aktiia.

It is also important for patients on these medications to have regular consultations with their GP or psychiatrist to make sure that the medication is truly necessary, and to strike a balance between benefit from the medication and the risk of cardiovascular complications.

The original research article can be reached by clicking here.

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