Home Mind & Brain Timely ADHD Medication Significantly Reduces Mortality Risk

Timely ADHD Medication Significantly Reduces Mortality Risk

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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects millions globally, impacting not only the quality of life but also presenting significant health risks.

A comprehensive Swedish study, conducted from 2007 through 2020, has provided pivotal insights into the role of ADHD pharmacotherapy in reducing mortality among diagnosed individuals, from children through to adults.

ADHD is one of the most prevalent neurodevelopmental disorders, affecting approximately 5.9% of children and 2.5% of adults worldwide. The disorder is commonly associated with various psychiatric and physical comorbidities and significantly increases the risk of premature death, primarily due to unnatural causes such as accidents or suicide.

The study utilised a nationwide cohort, observing over 148,578 individuals, and applied a target trial emulation framework to mitigate biases often found in observational research. By following participants from diagnosis until 2020, researchers sought to discern the impacts of initiating ADHD medication within three months of diagnosis.

The findings were published in JAMA.

Remarkably, the findings indicated a clear benefit in terms of mortality reduction for those who began medication soon after their diagnosis. The 2-year mortality rate showed a significant decrease among those on medication compared to those who were not, with a noted reduction in deaths caused by unnatural causes such as accidental poisonings and injuries.

ADHD medications, including both stimulants and non-stimulants, are primarily aimed at alleviating the disorder’s core symptoms. This study highlights that beyond symptom control, these medications play a crucial role in reducing life-threatening risks associated with the disorder. Notably, the medications seemed particularly effective in reducing risks associated with accidental injuries and poisonings, likely due to improved impulse control and decision-making abilities in patients.

Despite the benefits observed, the long-term safety of ADHD medications, particularly concerning cardiovascular risks, has been a subject of debate. This study contributes positively to the discourse, showing no increased risk of natural-cause mortality associated with these medications. The findings suggest that the benefits of pharmacotherapy not only outweigh potential risks but also underscore the importance of timely intervention following an ADHD diagnosis.

The study underscores the necessity of considering medication as a part of comprehensive treatment planning for ADHD patients. It calls for healthcare providers to weigh the benefits of early pharmacological intervention against the potentially grave consequences of untreated ADHD.

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