slideshow widget

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Restless Leg Syndrome

As we RTs are doing our rounds we occasionally see a patient with restless leg syndrome. When we do we now know there is a 50% chance that person has coronary artery disease (as I wrote about here). Still, we wonder what is this strange disease.

Basically, according to the Mayo Clinic, Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a genetic disorder that causes the patient to feel leg discomfort while sitting or lying down, and temporary relief can be found by getting up and walking around.

The discomfort is often noted as "unpleasant sensations in their calves, thighs, feet or arms."

The Mayo clinic notes there is no known cause for RLS, although "researchers suspect the condition may be due to an imbalance of dopamine (a chemical found in the brain that sends messages to control muscle movements)."

This disorder can start at an early age, get progressively worse with age, and make sleeping and traveling difficult.

The Mayo clinic notes the disease is not particularly linked to other diseases, although is occasionally linked to:
  • Peripheral neuropathy. This damage to the nerves in your hands and feet is sometimes due to chronic diseases such as diabetes and alcoholism.

  • Iron deficiency. Even without anemia, iron deficiency can cause or worsen RLS. If you have a history of bleeding from your stomach or bowels, experience heavy menstrual periods or repeatedly donate blood, you may have iron deficiency.

  • Kidney failure. If you have kidney failure, you may also have iron deficiency, often with anemia. When kidneys fail to function properly, iron stores in your blood can decrease. This, along with other changes in body chemistry, may cause or worsen RLS.

While this is not noted by the Mayo Clinic, many studies (like this one) link RLS to coronary artery disease. In fact, it has been noted that those with RLS may be at twice the risk as those without the disease.

Doctors suspect RLS may cause cardiovascular complications due to spikes in blood pressure during symptoms of RLS. When this occurs on a daily and nightly basis, the risk of coronary artery disease is at its highest.

However, this study is only preliminary, and further tests will be needed to confirm its findings.


Dale said...

Having had RLS for as far back as I can remember, I always find info on this enlightening. However, I do need to take exception to a few general obsevations:
1>Except fot this RLS aliment, I do not have CAD (Cororony Artery Disease
2>Peripheral ... no diabetes or alcholism
3>Iron ...same no such problem

In conclusion
1> Other than being very, very healthy, am one of those in this "No Reason-No Cure" aliments
2> I can tell from your article you do not have RLS (lucky for you!)

Rick Frea said...

Just trying to understand it.