Friday, March 13, 2009

Are People With Restless Leg Syndrome At Higher Risk of Heart Disease?

When a person has a strong, irresistible urge to move the legs that is often associated with an itching, tugging or gnawing feeling, he or she is said to have Restless Leg Syndrome (or in short, RLS).

When resting, the syndrome tends to worsen and this could cause a person difficult to fall or stay asleep. About 5 percent to 10 percent of adults have RLS, and some 80 percent of sufferers move their legs periodically during sleep.

A study, which was conducted by Harvard Medical School and Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston, revealed that people with RLS were twice as likely to have a heart disease or stroke and those having severe syndromes were at higher risk. In fact, the association of RLS with heart disease and stroke was strongest in those people having RLS symptoms at least 16 times per month. The finding was published on December 31, 2007 in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

3,433 men and women were enrolled in a sleep study with an average age of 68, and a detailed questionnaire indicated that nearly 7 percent of women and 3 percent of men in the study had RLS.

The researchers found that people with RLS were more than twice as likely to have heart disease or stroke, even after making adjustment for several risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, obesity and smoking.

While the results do not directly show that RTS can cause heart disease or stroke, the researchers argued that the periodic leg movements associated with RLS could well be a contributing factor.

According to the researchers, most people with RLS can have between 200 and 300 periodic leg movements per night of sleep. These leg movements are associated with substantial acute increases in both blood pressure and heart rate that may produce cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease over the long term. Moreover, sleep deprivation may also be linked to heart disease.

Incidentally, the research, which confirms several smaller studies, was also supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.


  1. Very interesting post, I have been suffering from RLS for about 3-4 years now. I have tried 2 different medications and nothing seems to help me. but i have heard good things from other people who use requip.

  2. Medication helps sometimes,but it depends on your personal condition. There are significant differences between drug types.