Middle-aged women with more than 15 incidences of
restless legs syndrome per month also had a 33% prevalence of hypertension,
according to new data from the Nurses’ Health Study II.
The cross-sectional study included more than 65,000
women aged 41 to 58 years who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study II.
Self reports of restless legs syndrome, hypertension, age, BMI, smoking status,
physical activity, menopausal status, use of aspirin and other nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs, presence of stroke or MI and dietary intake were
assessed by questionnaires, and the relationship between hypertension and
restless leg syndrome was analyzed by multivariable logistic regression models.
Overall, women with restless legs syndrome had a higher
risk for having hypertension vs. women who did not have symptoms (OR=1.20; 95%
CI, 1.10-1.30). Women with restless leg syndrome symptoms five to 14 times per
month had a 26% prevalence of hypertension (OR=1.06; 95% CI, 0.94-1.18)
compared with a prevalence of 21.4% among women with no restless legs syndrome
symptoms (OR=1.41; 95% CI, 1.24-1.61). Additionally, women who had a higher BMI
(>30) and restless legs syndrome symptoms 15 or more times per month had
higher odds of hypertension (OR=1.57; 95% CI, 1.28-1.93) vs. women with less
frequent restless legs syndrome symptoms (OR=1.15; 95% CI, 0.96-1.37),
according to study results. The association between more frequent restless legs
syndrome symptoms and a higher risk for hypertension was also found in women
who slept fewer than 8 hours per day. Researchers found a higher rate of
systolic (P<.0001) and diastolic (P<.0001) BP in women with
a greater frequency of restless legs syndrome symptoms.
“As is the case in general practice, restless legs
syndrome might be viewed as only one of several factors that could contribute
to an elevation in BP … [based on these observational data] no insight can
be provided into whether treatment of restless legs syndrome could in any sort
of meaningful way lower BP,” Domenic Sica, MD, of the section of
clinical pharmacology and hypertension, division of nephrology, and David
Leszczyszyn, MD, PhD, of the Center for Sleep Medicine, department of
neurology, both at Virginia Commonwealth University, wrote in an accompanying
editorial. “In the foreseeable future, the hypertension specialist and
… any clinician actively treating hypertension will need to have more than
just a passing knowledge of sleep patterns and sleep-related diseases to most
effectively treat hypertension and accompanying CVDs.”
Disclosures: Drs. Batool-Anwar and Leszczyszyn report no relevant
financial disclosures. Dr. Sica is on the advisory board for UCB Pharma.