I often compare the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD to diabetes. When I do, sometimes people remark, “Yeah, but you can die of diabetes.” Diabetes does increase the risk of premature death. ADHD actually does too—especially when it’s diagnosed later in life. In fact, people with ADHD have more than double the risk of premature death. The most common cause of those deaths is accidents.
Researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark recently completed a study in which they analyzed approximately two million people in the Danish National Health Service Register over the course of 32 years. They found that the patients with ADHD faced at least a doubled risk of dying prematurely. They also discovered that the risk was higher for women than men and that later diagnosis was associated with a greater increase in risk as well. In fact, the patients diagnosed with ADHD as adults had four times the risk. Younger patients had only double the risk.
While this news is certainly alarming, it’s no reason to panic. The study offered reassuring information as well. Researchers noted that the relative risk of premature death does not mean that there are a large number of ADHD patients actually dying prematurely. It’s important to keep in mind that the doubled relative risk of premature death only results in a small absolute risk of premature death.
Gaining knowledge from studies like this – about how ADHD affects our health and safety -is critical. It helps us develop awareness that motivates and prepares us to take better care of ourselves. And, yet again, this study reminds us that early diagnosis and medical treatment are the best ways to improve an ADHD patient’s overall health, lifestyle, and well-being. At Focus MD, we think it’s time we all start paying more attention to ADHD.
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