Restless leg syndrome risk factor for heart-related death

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Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD)-related death among women, according to research published online today (Dec. 15) in the January 2018 issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Xiang Gao, associate professor of nutritional sciences at Penn State, and colleagues found that women with physician-diagnosed RLS have elevated rates of CVD-related mortality.

Specifically, women had a 43 percent higher likelihood of due to during a ten-year period, compared to those without physician-diagnosed RLS.

"This study suggests that RLS could be a novel risk factor for CVD-related death," said Gao, who is also director the of Nutritional Epidemiology Lab at Penn State.

"People with RLS are at elevated risk of CVD and other chronic conditions, but previous studies of all-cause mortality in people with RLS have reported inconsistent results," Gao said. "Our research clarifies how affects cardiovascular disease related mortality in older women, specifically."

Commonly, people with RLS have other diseases or conditions, such as obesity or . This can make it difficult to see if CVD-related death is due to RLS or these other conditions, Gao said. In this study, Gao and his colleagues found that after excluding participants with these other conditions, the association between RLS and CVD-related death became even stronger, which clarified the relationship between RLS and CVD-related mortality.

The study included 57,417 (with an average age of 67) from the Nurses' Health Study, a series of prospective studies that examine epidemiology and the long-term effects of nutrition, hormones, environment, and nurses' work-life on health and disease development.

The participants were mailed questionnaires at two-year intervals from 2002, the baseline year for the current analysis, until 2012. These questionnaires asked about RLS and other medical and lifestyle factors.

Researchers documented 6,448 deaths during ten years of follow-up. When cause-specific mortality was studied, participants with RLS had a significantly higher risk of CVD mortality relative to those without RLS, Gao said.

The researchers did not find a significant association between RLS and due to cancer and other causes.

Further studies are needed to understand whether RLS treatment is associated with a better outcome in a larger population, Gao said.


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More information: Yinge Li et al. Prospective study of restless legs syndrome and total and cardiovascular mortality among women, Neurology (2017). DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000004814
Journal information: Neurology

Citation: Restless leg syndrome risk factor for heart-related death (2017, December 18) retrieved 16 October 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-12-restless-leg-syndrome-factor-heart-related.html
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Dec 18, 2017
RLS is characterized by involuntary spasming of leg muscles, which may result in severe reduction of time spent in restorative or REM sleep. As in RSI ( repetitive stress injury ) pain, neurological symptoms as twitching, cramping, loss of normal motor neuron control are present. Both cases occur in men and women, and in pregnant women carry a further risk of Pre-eclampsia. The basis of syndromes is likely the same. In muscle overuse syndrome, edema when pronounced appears to result in pressure rise in fascia defined "muscle bags". Nerves and capillaries compromised by edema experience #1 change in blood flow and #2 nerve process.

Compromised capillaries likely reduce O2 and CO2 exchange, and direct pressure on nerve process may result in hot, cold, tingling or pain sensations ( depending on nerve process ) and also may compromise motor neuron function ( chronic muscle contraction or lack of motor neuron actuation competence.

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