Understanding ADHD as a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases

World PsychiatryScott Cunningham MD PhD, et al. | September 13, 2022



The prevalence of AHDH among adults is approximately 2.5%.

It is well-known that patients with ADHD have psychiatric (e.g., anxiety and depression) and medical co-morbidities (e.g., asthma). Similarly, patients with CVD have psychiatric co-morbidities (depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder).

The current study clearly demonstrated that ADHD is an independent risk factor for CVD.

This was a nationwide population-based cohort study conducted in Sweden from 1 January 2001 to 31 December 2013.

Patients born between 1941 and 1983 who had no documented history of cardiovascular disease (CVD) were enrolled. Incident CVD events were recorded based on ICD codes with ADHD as a time-varying exposure.

During an average follow-up period of 11.8 years involving 5,389,519 individuals, 38.05% of patients with ADHD had at least 1 CVD event compared to 23.57% of patients without ADHD.

ADHD was associated with an increased risk of CVD (HR=2.05) after adjusting for gender and age. Even after adjustment of education, birth country, type 2 diabetes mellitus, obesity, dyslipidemia, sleep disorders, and heavy cigarette use, the risk for CVD events among patients with ADHD remained significant (HR=1.84). Adjustment for psychiatric co-morbidities did not neutralized the risk of CVD events in patients with ADHD (HR=1.65).

Cardiac arrest (HR=2.28), hemorrhagic stroke (HR=2.16), and peripheral vascular disease/arteriosclerosis (HR=2.05) had the strongest association with ADHD.