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Restless Legs Syndrome May Boost Blood Pressure
Date:10/10/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Middle-aged women who suffer from a common condition called restless legs syndrome may be at increased risk of high blood pressure, U.S. researchers report.

Restless legs syndrome is a sensory motor disorder that causes intense, unpleasant leg sensations, and an irresistible urge to move the legs, often at night. The condition, which may affect between 5 to 15 percent of U.S. adults, can disrupt sleep and cause daytime drowsiness.

"For those who experience restless legs syndrome symptoms, please consult your doctor regarding this issue," said lead researcher Dr. Xiang Gao, an assistant professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School. "The risk of hypertension can be substantially reduced by following a healthy life style, including a healthy diet, regular physical activity, and keeping optimal body weight," he added.

Unabated, hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, can have dire consequences. In 2006, it contributed to 326,000 deaths in the United States, according to background information in the study, published online Oct. 10 in Hypertension.

For the study, Gao's team collected data on almost 98,000 women, averaging about 50 years of age, who took part in the Nurses Health Study II. In 2005, the women were asked about symptoms that could indicate restless legs syndrome (RLS) and also about their blood pressure.

Specifically, they were asked if they had unusual crawling sensations, or pain combined with motor restlessness plus an "urge to move." Women with five or more episodes a month were considered to have RLS, and more than 65,500 were included in the final analysis.

The researchers found a significant connection between RLS and blood pressure. The worse a woman's RLS, the higher her blood pressures, they reported.

More than one-quarter (26 percent) of the women with five to 14 incid
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