New Research has found that middle aged women who have restless leg syndrome (RLS) may have an increased risk of hypertension.

Restless Legs Syndrome is a neurological disorder which affects as many as 10 percent of the U.S. population.

What is RLS?

RLS is described as an intense creeping, pulling unpleasant sensation in the legs and creates an uncontrollable urge to move them. Leg movement sooths the discomfort.

RLS occurs primarily at night resulting in a lack of sleep, which in turn affects memory,failure to accomplish daily task and job functions.

Occurrence of RLS affects both women and men but women had twice as much incidence, many are middle aged or older, and symptoms of RLS typically become more frequent and last longer with age, according to NIH.

Study Findings?

"If future prospective research confirms this association, then early diagnosis and treatment of RLS might help prevent hypertension," said Salma Batool-Anwar, M.D., M.P.H., the study's first author and a researcher in the Sleep Medicine Division at Brigham and Women's Hospital and an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass.

In the study close to 98,000 women participating in the Nurses Health Study II were asked about their RLS symptoms and hypertension status. More than 80 percent of the participants responded to the study questionnaire.

The questions were based on the international restless legs study group criteria, focusing on crawling sensations or pain combined with motor restlessness and the urge to move.

Researchers found there was a significant relationship between RLS severity and blood pressure, and greater frequency of RLS symptoms was associated with higher concurrent systolic and diastolic (maximum and minimum) blood pressures.

Researchers found that women who have RLS: with 5 to 14 occurrences per month had 26 percent prevalence of hypertension, With 15 occurrence of RLS, they had a 33 percent prevalence of hypertension. With no RLS symptoms there was a hypertension prevalence of 21.4 percent.


"In some cases the treatment of RLS is as simple as prescribing iron supplements, therefore, women who have symptoms suggestive of RLS should talk to their physicians, said Batool-Anwar"