Restless legs syndrome linked to heart
People with restless legs syndrome, or RLS, are twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke, compared to those who don't, a U.S. study finds.
"The association of RLS with heart disease and stroke was strongest in those people who had RLS symptoms at least 16 times per month," study author Dr. John W. Winkelman of the Harvard Medical School in Boston said in a statement.
Winkelman theorizes people with RLS can have as many as 200 to 300 periodic leg movements per night during sleep that are associated with acute increases in both blood pressure and heart rate, "which may, over the long term, produce cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease."
The study involved 3,433 people -- average age 68 -- enrolled in a sleep study who answered a questionnaire. The 7 percent of women and 3 percent of men who had RLS, were more than twice as likely to have vascular diseases. The results remained the same after adjusting for age, sex, race, body mass index, diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood pressure medication, cholesterol levels and smoking.
The findings are published in Neurology.