Do attention disorders increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease?

Do attention disorders increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease?

The genetic predisposition to attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity (ADHD) would also expose people to Alzheimer’s disease. Explanations.

When neurological damage associates with each other… According to American researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, suffering from attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity (ADHD) would expose patients to an increased risk to also have Alzheimer’s disease.

To prove this, the scientists used a tool called “ADHD polygenic risk score” capable of defining the genetic combinations inducing a probable risk of developing ADHD. This score, as well as other data such as the presence of amyloid plaques and the levels of Tau protein, two markers of Alzheimer’s disease, were compared in 212 volunteers over a period of 6 years. As a result, being predisposed to ADHD is found to be associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

A genetic component of ADHD

“It is now possible to curb Alzheimer’s disease when it is detected – and therefore taken care of – early,” recalls Professor Tharick Pascoal, a second psychiatrist associated with this work. “It is therefore important to put all the chances on the side of science to better control the factors of vulnerability and act as soon as possible with patients considered to be at risk.”

An important point for patients, because if it appears during childhood, ADHD persists into adulthood and impacts the quality of life, the state of health “but also the life expectancy”, continues the Pr Douglas Leffa, psychiatrist and main author of the study.

Thus, could carriers of ADHD be closely monitored by their doctor to detect potential first signs of Alzheimer’s disease? In this regard, there is still a long way to go. Priority: “to study the impact of correction of ADHD in young children on future protection against the risk of Alzheimer’s, by monitoring the appearance of cerebral biomarkers typical of Alzheimer’s”. Long-term work already initiated by the team of Professors Leffa and Pascoal, “important for better understanding the multifactorial origin of neurological diseases and the mechanisms by which they impact cognitive functions”.

In numbers

ADHD occurs before the age of 12. It results in “attention deficit, motor hyperactivity and impulsivity”, summarizes the site. The presence and intensity of the symptoms will vary according to each case, but it is estimated that these three particular points are found together in 20% of patients. In total, 3 to 5% of school children, mostly boys, suffer from it. But what is its origin? “Unlike most other behavioral disorders, ADHD has a genetic component, reflected not by a single affected gene but by a set of small genetic changes.”

Alzheimer’s disease currently affects 1 million French people. And it is one of the most expansive “epidemics” of chronic disease over time, linked to the aging of the population: thus, among those over 65, a total of 2.1 million patients are projected for the year 2040. It should be remembered that this pathology is the leading cause of heavy dependency in the elderly.

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