ADHD drugs can treat ALZHEIMERs: Scientists say there is ‘good evidence’

ADHD drugs can treat ALZHEIMER symptoms: Pills like Ritalin start a part of the brain that affects memory, learning and attention, study finds

  • Significant improvements in 60-85 year olds with dementia who received ADHD drugs
  • Drugs activate areas of the brain that affect things like learning and memory
  • Brit team looked at 19 studies going back 40 years and involving 2000 patients

Common drugs given to hyperactive children may also treat Alzheimer’s disease, research suggests.

Dementia patients given ADHD medications such as Ritalin saw significant improvements in their cognition and brain function, according to one review.

The drugs are thought to be a good match because they trigger a region of the brain that affects things like attention, learning and memory.

British researchers looked at 19 studies that were 40 years old and involved nearly 2,000 patients, mostly between the ages of 65 and 80.

Participants who received noradrenergic drugs saw a “small but significant” improvement in overall cognition, including memory, verbal fluency and language.

The team also found that the drugs affected behavior, making patients less apathetic and less motivated.

The researchers from Imperial College London, the University of Cambridge and University College London are now calling for more clinical trials of the drugs’ effect on Alzheimer’s disease. They say there is “good evidence” that the drugs can help.

Common drugs given to hyperactive children, such as Ritalin, may treat Alzheimer’s disease, study suggests

The team analyzed 19 studies published between 1980 and 2021 that looked at the effect of ADHD drugs on people with Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment.

The drugs — which were given to patients between two weeks and a year — work by targeting noradrenaline, a chemical released by a network of specialized neurons in the body.

This network is critical to many cognitive processes, including attention, learning, memory, and suppressing inappropriate behavior.

The drugs had no effect on attention, according to the study. But there were small improvements in overall cognition and a “big positive effect” on apathy symptoms.

Commenting on the findings, Dr. Mark Dallas, an associate professor of cellular neuroscience at the University of Reading, said reusing drugs that already exist to treat dementia is an “exciting prospect.”

He said the review, published online in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, is an “interesting teaser that drugs used to manage other conditions could help fight dementia.”

The assistant professor of psychology at the University of Nottingham, Dr Andrew Reid, said the study shows a “promising new avenue of research” as it suggests “a way to identify at-risk individuals and treat them much earlier than currently possible.” is’.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, affecting more than half a million people in the UK and about 6 million in the US.

The disease causes brain cells to die and changes parts of the brain – including the noradrenergic system.

dr. Rosa Sancho, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: ‘There is currently a lack of approved drugs to treat Alzheimer’s apathy, a symptom associated with lower quality of life, faster decline and increased stress. for caregivers.

“This well-done meta-analysis highlights the potential of noradrenergic drugs to treat some aspects of Alzheimer’s disease, but the evidence in the studies reviewed here varies in quality and it is difficult to directly compare the results of each study because the methods used are not consistent.

“We’re not yet sure what effect these drugs might have on a person’s daily life, nor do we know if the benefits they provide outweigh the risks.”

Like any drug, ADHD drugs can have side effects. The most common are loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping.

Less common side effects include nervousness, irritability, moodiness, headache, abdominal pain, rapid heart rate and high blood pressure.

What is Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain in which the build-up of abnormal proteins causes nerve cells to die.

This disrupts the transmitters that transmit messages and causes the brain to shrink.

More than 5 million people suffer from the disease in the US, where it is the 6th leading cause of death, and more than 1 million Britons have it.


When brain cells die, the functions they provide are lost.

That includes memory, orientation, and the ability to think and reason.

The course of the disease is slow and gradual.

On average, patients live five to seven years after diagnosis, but some may live ten to 15 years.


  • Loss of short-term memory
  • disorientation
  • Behavioral changes
  • mood swings
  • Difficulty handling or calling money


  • Severe amnesia, forgetting close relatives, familiar objects or places
  • Becoming anxious and frustrated with the inability to understand the world, leading to aggressive behavior
  • Eventually loses the ability to walk
  • May have trouble eating
  • The majority ultimately need 24-hour care

Source: Alzheimer’s Association


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