ADHD Drug Helps Menopausal Women with Focus,
Memory Deficits, Penn Study Shows
At menopause, many women begin to notice a decline in their attention, organization, and short-term memory. These cognitive symptoms can lead to professional and personal challenges and unwarranted fears of early-onset dementia. A small study by Penn Medicine and Yale researchers, published in the journal Menopause, found that a drug typically given to children and adults with ADHD improved attention and concentration in menopausal women, providing the first potential treatment for menopause-related cognition deficits.
Researchers believe the cognitive issues may be the result of a menopause-related decline in estrogen input to the prefrontal cortex, which interferes with neurotransmission, causing executive function problems.
"Subjective declines in memory, focus and organization are common in mid-life women," said study author C. Neill Epperson, MD, director of the Center for Women's Behavioral Wellness and associate professor in Psychiatry and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "We believe that the results of our small randomized clinical trial provides proof-of-concept that atomoxetine may improve subjective memory, attention and concentration."
Before clinical recommendations can be made, a follow-up clinical trial needs to validate results. A new follow-up study is now underway at the Penn Medicine's Women's Behavioral Wellness program and will test whether an FDA-approved ADD medication amends these cognitive deficits in a larger group of menopausal women.
Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $4.3 billion enterprise.
The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 16 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $398 million awarded in the 2012 fiscal year.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania -- recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Penn Presbyterian Medical Center; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Penn Medicine also includes additional patient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region.
Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2012, Penn Medicine provided $827 million to benefit our community.