Washington: Middle-aged women with restless legs syndrome (RLS) are at greater risk of developing high blood pressure, a new study has found.
   
The new research, published in 'Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association', found that women who reported five to 14 incidences of RLS in a month had a 26 percent prevalence of high blood pressure.
   
And those with more than 15 incidences of RLS had a 33 percent prevalence of high blood pressure, according to the researchers.
   
RLS, which affects as many as 15 percent of the adult population, is a common yet under-recognised sensory motor disorder characterised by intense, unpleasant leg sensations, and an irresistible urge to move the legs. It can lead to poor sleep and daytime drowsiness.
   
"If future prospective research confirms this association, then early diagnosis and treatment of RLS might help prevent hypertension," study author Salma Batool-Anwar, of Brigham and Women's Hospital, said.
   
"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, who is also an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston.
   
For their study, the researchers asked 97,642 women, who participated in the Nurses Health Study in 2005, about their RLS symptoms and hypertension status. More than 80 per cent of the participants responded. Their average age was 50.4 years.
   
Specifically, they were asked about unusual crawling sensations, or pain combined with motor restlessness and an urge to move. The questions were based on the international restless legs study group criteria.

The researchers found that 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 blood pressures.
   
This association was independent of other potential covariates such as age, body mass index, smoking status, and presence of stroke or heart attack.
   
Previous studies in men have suggested a link between frequency of RLS symptoms and the prevalence of high blood pressure.

(Agencies)