Study Reveals ADHD Medications Could Be A Game Changer For Treating Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease is a devastating condition with no known cure and limited treatment options. Fortunately, there is now hope that medications used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) could be repurposed to help people with Alzheimer's. According to new research published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, some noradrenergic drugs used to treat ADHD may be able to target some aspects of Alzheimer's. "Repurposing of established noradrenergic drugs is most likely to offer effective treatment in Alzheimer's disease for general cognition [thinking skills] and apathy," the study authors said (via U.S. News). "There is a strong rationale for further, targeted clinical trials of noradrenergic treatments in Alzheimer's disease."

After reviewing the results of 19 clinical trials studying patients with Alzheimer's disease or mild mental impairment, the study authors found that some ADHD medications, including atomoxetine (Strattera), methylphenidate (Ritalin/Concerta), and guanfacine (Tenex), had a positive effect on mental skills like attention, memory, and verbal fluency. These mental skills are often affected by Alzheimer's disease, so the authors concluded that these medications may be able to address those issues in patients with Alzheimer's, especially when treatment is started early. More research still needs to be done on the topic, but scientists are hopeful that this may help many people in the future with this disease.

What to know about Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer's disease is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior (via Alzheimer's Association). Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive impairments that interfere with daily life. Alzheimer's primarily affects people over the age of 65. Early-onset Alzheimer's mainly occurs in people aged 30 to 60. The cause of Alzheimer's is not fully understood, but it is thought to involve a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors. The most significant risk factor is age. Other risk factors include family history, previous head injuries, and lifestyle choices such as smoking.

There is no one test that can definitively diagnose Alzheimer's. Instead, doctors look at a person's medical history, symptoms, and results from cognitive and neurological tests to make a diagnosis (via Mayo Clinic). There is no cure for Alzheimer's, but treatments can help slow the progression of the disease and improve quality of life. Treatment options include medications, cognitive training, social support, and making changes to your home or living situation. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, it's important to seek out support from family, friends, and community resources.