Saturday, June 21, 2008


I thought I would share this article that I had gotten e-mailed to me. I know I have RLS. It was some info that I didnt know so I thought I would pass it on in case other people suffer from the same thing.
New Findings Regarding Restless Legs Syndrome
For the 12 million Americans suffering from the curious phenomenon known as Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) there is lots of hope, but also cause for concern, thanks to a recent study that found a disturbing association between RLS and heart disease, putting it into the category of health problems that you shouldn't "just live with." Fortunately, there are natural ways to target RLS. I spoke with sleep expert Ralph Downey III, PhD, chief of sleep medicine at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda, California, to learn about the new developments relating to RLS.
Besides the array of "annoying" symptoms of RLS, research increasingly indicates that RLS-related problems can be quite severe. The results of a recent Harvard Medical School study were reported in the January 1, 2008, issue of Neurology, and showed that people with RLS were more than twice as likely to have coronary artery disease (disease of the arteries of the heart) or cardiovascular disease (diseases of the heart and blood vessels, including those in the brain) as the general population. One possible reason is that hundreds of periodic leg movements per night result in simultaneous jumps in blood pressure and heart rate. Over time, this may be responsible for the higher likelihood of heart attacks and strokes -- and the more severe the symptoms, the higher the risk.
In Dr. Downey's opinion, RLS has been a notoriously under-diagnosed disease. Some people may be slow to consult their health care providers, fearing their symptoms would not be taken seriously. He says that even now physicians (and the public at large) still have much to learn about RLS. (To read more about this disorder and ongoing investigations into its treatment, visit the Web site of The Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation at, Dr. Downey emphasizes that treatment should be limited to people who meet specified diagnostic criteria, and says patients with mild symptoms often can control them with natural treatments and lifestyle change. Treatment strategies include...
  • Natural solutions -- mild cases of RLS often respond well to natural strategies such as regular exercise and the avoidance of caffeine, alcohol and tobacco. Some people find it helpful to massage their legs or use a heating pad or ice pack at bedtime, while others distract themselves from their discomfort by reading or listening to music. Do all you can to promote high-quality sleep, including keeping regular hours, following a bedtime routine, taking warm baths -- whatever works best for you.
  • Discuss with your doctor all medications you take on a regular basis. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), or certain tricyclic antidepressants such as imipramine (Tofranil) may worsen the problem. Other drugs including certain antinausea drugs, some cold and allergy medications, and some antipsychotic and antiseizure drugs can similarly aggravate symptoms. Talk with your doctor before stopping or switching drugs and ask about alternative medications if the drugs are indeed exacerbating your RLS symptoms.
  • Have your iron levels tested. Since RLS has been associated with low iron levels, your health care provider may prescribe an iron supplement or make dietary recommendations to help correct low levels.
  • Possible drug treatments include dopaminergic drugs such as levodopa (largely used to treat Parkinson's disease)... opiates (narcotic painkillers) such as oxycodone... benzodiazepines (tranquilizers) such as clonazepam... and anticonvulsant agents such as carbamazepine and gabapentin. Dr. Downey cautions that these drugs all have potentially serious side effects, and "physicians must be certain that the treatment given meets the degree of symptoms and impairment the patient experiences."

Ralph Downey III, PhD, D.ABSM, chief, sleep medicine, Loma Linda University Medical Center, associate professor of medicine, pediatrics, and neurology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda, California, and adjunct associate professor of psychology, University of California, Riverside, California


luvrte66 said...

Excellent information. Thanks for writing about it.


bojgill4375 said...

Thank you for sharing Christine. Hugs, Janie