Dementia breakthrough: ADHD drugs could be used to treat the condition

Steve Thompson recalls signs of his early-onset dementia

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According to researchers there is “good evidence” noradrenergic drugs, used to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), could be used to treat important aspects of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.

As a result of their research, they now say clinical trials should begin into whether these effects are genuine.

In a statement they said: “Repurposing of established noradrenergic drugs is most likely to offer effective treatment in Alzheimer’s disease for general cognition and apathy.

“There is a strong rationale for further, targeted clinical trials of noradrenergic treatments in Alzheimer’s disease.”

What are noradrenergic drugs?

Noradrenergic drugs are used to treat conditions such as ADHD and high blood pressure, and antidepressants are a form of noradrenergic drug.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is short for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; a condition known to impact people’s behaviour.

ADHD can cause a range of symptoms, the most common are inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

Symptoms in adults include:
• Carelessness and lack of attention to detail
• Continually starting new tasks before finishing old ones
• Poor organisational skills
• Inability to focus or prioritise
• Continually losing or misplacing things
• Forgetfulness
• Restlessness and edginess
• Difficulty keeping quiet
• Speaking out of turn
• Blurting out responses and often interrupting others
• Mood swings, irritability and a quick temper
• Inability to deal with stress
• Extreme impatience
• Taking risks in activities, often with little or no regard for personal safety or the safety of others.

Although the possibility of a new treatment for dementia is an exciting one, the researchers added caution to their positive research.

They said appropriate targeting of particular groups and understanding how noradrenergic drugs interact with other treatments was important.

If two medications mix in the body at the same time, they can occasionally cause a negative reaction and do more harm than the good intended by their prescription.

Noradrenergic drugs, just like other medications, cause side effects which can cause the patient taking them to suffer from other issues.

Nevertheless, when statistics say one in three people born today will develop dementia, it is a dose of positive news for patients of the future.

The tragedy is that it is too late for the patients of the present and the past.

It is said sometimes of dementia that a patient suffers not one, but two deaths.

The first is the death of the mind, when neither patient nor family member can recognise the one they loved while the second is the death of the body, when the mind succumbs to the ravages of the disease.

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