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Restless Legs Syndrome Poses Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

A study published in the April 10, 2007, issue of Neurology, has indicated the pronounced risk of cardiovascular disease in patients// suffering ‘Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). The risk increases in the elderly patients.

For the study, conducted at the University of Montreal’s Sacré-Coeur Hospital, ten people with untreated RLS spent the night in a sleep laboratory, where researchers monitored periodic leg movements and blood pressure changes. RLS is a neurological disorder in which people have a strong urge to move their legs. Symptoms such as periodic leg movements are typically most severe at night when the legs are resting and can occur every 20 to 40 seconds, increasing blood pressure.

The study found blood pressure rates during periodic leg movements rose by an average of 20 points for the systolic reading, which is the top or first number, and by an average of 11 points for the diastolic reading, which is the bottom or second number.

“This repetitive rise in blood pressure during periodic leg movements could be harmful to the cardiovascular system, especially in severe cases of RLS, the elderly, and those with a long history of the disease,” said the study’s lead author Paola Lanfranchi, MD, MSc, with the Université de Montréal in Quebec, Canada. “Past studies have shown that significant blood pressure changes, as shown in our study, are associated with the development of vascular and heart damage. Furthermore, drastic blood pressure surges at night have been associated with a higher rate of stroke in the elderly.”

In addition, the study found blood pressure changes increased the most with age and those with a longer history of the disease. “These findings strongly suggest blood pressure surges caused by periodic leg movements might exert a deleterious impact on the cardiovascular system in otherwise healthy people,” said study author Jacques Montplaisir, MD, with the Université de Montréal. “Further studies are ne
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