Restless Legs Syndrome, Heart Risk Tied
Blood Pressure Elevations From Restless Legs Syndrome May Raise Heart Disease Risk
WebMD News Archive
BP Recorded During Sleep continued...
They concluded that this degree of elevation, occurring frequently over
time, could lead to heart and blood vessel damage. Their findings are published
in the April 10 issue of the journal Neurology.
The study did not include RLS patients with heart disease, but these
patients may have the greatest risk, Lanfranchi says.
“Blood pressure elevations during the night could be very harmful to the
already damaged hearts of these patients,” she says. “Clinicians taking care of
these patients need to be aware of this.”
Can RLS Drugs Lower Risk?
All agree that more research is needed to confirm the findings and to
determine if medications used to treat RLS can reduce the potential risk.
Sleep disorders expert Merrill Mitler, PhD, tells WebMD that this is
unlikely because the available drug treatments have only a modest impact on
Mitler is program director for the National Institute of Neurological
Disorders and Stroke.
“There are certainly no treatments that can make restless leg go away,” he
says. “But there are behavioral and conceptual approaches that can help
patients learn to live with this condition.”
He adds that the new study, while small, makes a strong case for a link
between restless legs syndrome and heart disease.
But University of Maryland School of Medicine neurology professor William J.
Weiner, MD, says it will take much more research to convince him.
Weiner is the director of the Maryland Parkinson’s Disease and Movement
Disorders Center in Baltimore.
“This study is an interesting beginning, but this was a very small study and
these patients weren’t followed to see if they developed heart disease,” he
tells WebMD. “The conclusion that these blood pressure fluctuations
contribute to heart disease is a very big leap.”