Restless leg syndrome and the heart – could these be related?

Have you ever been told that you have restless leg syndrome (RLS)? It is a sleep disorder that currently affects up to 15% of American adults and has no cure. People with restless legs syndrome have uncomfortable sensations in their legs and an irresistible urge to move their legs to relieve the sensations. This condition tends to affect women and elderly people more frequently than other populations.

A new study from Pennsylvania State University in State College investigated the association of mortality from heart disease with RLS among elderly women. They examined data on 57,417 women, which was available from the Nurses’ Health Study, a prospective study of women’s health. The women were aged 67, on average, and did not have any cancer, renal failure, or CVD at the beginning of the study. They were followed for a period of 10 years. Over the 10-year study period, women with RLS were around 43 percent likelier to die from a heart condition than with those without RLS. This risk was independent of co-occurring illnesses that could increase risk of heart disease, like high blood pressure and obesity.

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