The Whitworths of Arizona, bringing science to you in everyday language.

Friday, December 7, 2012

ADHD and Lewy Body Dementia

Both attention deficit, or inattention, and impulsive behaviors are common early LBD symptoms although until other symptoms show up, LBD is seldom suspected. Nevertheless, these symptoms may be stronger risk factors for LBD than previously thought.

Inattention and impulsivity are also symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which starts in childhood, usually between age three to five, and can continue into adulthood. Unlike Lewy, it is often genetic, being passed on from parent to child. However, there are many similarities between ADHD and LBD. Like Lewy, it occurs most often in males. Inattention causes a child to have difficulty completing a task, following instructions, staying organized and processing information, similar to the way the same problem affects adults with LBD later in life.

Impulsivity leads to behavioral issues and a lack of emotional restraint. Again, this is similar to the behavioral and emotional issues of LBD. Tests of people with Parkinson’s also show higher than average levels of inattention. Researchers suggest that the reason for these similarities is that people with Lewy body disorders and ADHD all have low amounts of certain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that brain cells require for proper functioning, although the chemicals vary with the disorder.

Even more interesting, a recent study found that those with adult ADHD (AADHD), people whose attention deficit and hyperactivity continues past childhood, were three times more likely to develop LBD than someone without the disorder. Further, people with adult AADHD were no more likely than the general public to develop Alzheimer’s. If substantiated with further studies, this could make AADHD as strong and as specific an indicator of eventual LBD as Active Dreams. (November 2, Active Dreams, PD and LBD) Thus, we suggest that anyone with AADHD start planning ways to avoid or delay its advancement into dementia. If it turns out that the risk of LBD isn’t so great, what you’ve done won’t be wasted. After all, most of what you do to delay dementia makes you healthier anyway.

Adult ADHD Linked to Increased Risk for Lewy Body Dementia.


  1. I am very interested in this because my husband's cognitive issues were so much an extension of how he always was and our son is the same way and diagnosed as ADHD. I have found two genetic illnesses that involve ADHD when young and Parkinson's when older--subclinical Fragile X and Gaucher's disease carriers. My husband was first diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia but 4 years later he still doesn't have hallucinations or severe cognitive impairment so they changed the diagnosis to Multiple System Atrophy. Do you know any research studies looking into this we could get into?

    1. First let me restate that the research connecting AADHD to LBD is still very new and really hasn't yet been confirmed with adequate studies. For more info, start with the second link under the blog (Adult ADHD...)and follow their links. Concerning MSA, it is related to LBD disorders and worthy of a blog in the future. The NINDS reports several clinical trials on their webpage.

  2. My husband wasn't diagnosed with ADHD til he was 61 years old...then with Lewey dementia 2 years later after a hypoxic brain injury. There is very little recourse medically to help him. More research needs to be done to help those with this disease.