As part of our new “Ask the Expert” series, we submitted these commonly-asked questions to The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement’s Scientific Advisory Council. Below are the responses we received from members of WAM’s Scientific Advisory Council.
Is there a connection between ADHD and Alzheimer’s?
According to our researchers, the answer is that there is no conclusive research that has shown a connection between the two conditions.
Dr. Rudolph Tanzi, Ph.D., Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School & Vice-Chair of Neurology and Director of the Genetics and Aging Unit at Mass General: “There is very little evidence linking ADHD to risk for Alzheimer’s disease. I think it would be premature to say ADHD is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s, but, early signs of Alzheimer’s can appear similar to ADD.”
Dr. Joshua Grill Ph.D., director of UC-Irvine’s Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders (UCI MIND): “I’m not aware of studies that find a link between ADHD and Alzheimer’s disease later in life. It’s certainly not a well-accepted risk factor.”
Dr. Bruce Miller, director of UCSF’s Memory and Aging Center: “No good studies that I know of have shown a link between the two. I think that some older people with attentional deficits get called adult-onset ADHD when they are actually in the early stages of a dementia. Hence this is a usually a misdiagnosis – the dementia is causing attentional deficits. In adults diagnosed with ADHD, we worry that long-term use of stimulants for attention may increase the risk for cognitive impairment via vascular mechanisms.”
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