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[News] Restless leg syndrome linked to risk of earlier death
Restless leg syndrome linked to risk of earlier death

By Lindsay Friedman

Insomnia is no longer the only cause for concern in restless leg syndrome victims.

Though the nuisance condition, which causes leg spasms when fatigued, has kept the sandman at bay, new research in the journal Neurology by Xiang Gao, a research scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health, shows that men with the condition faced a 40% higher risk of dying earlier than other men in the study.

"It brings recognition to RLS, which is largely unrecognized and under-diagnosed." Gao says. "It suggests the importance to further understand (the condition)."

In their study, Gao and colleagues tracked more than 18,000 men in their late 60s or older for eight years and found that among 690 with restless leg syndrome, 171, or 25% of the men with the disorder, died in that period. Fifteen percent without RLS died.

To sort out the separate impact of restless leg syndrome, researchers didn't include participants with chronic illnesses such as heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer. Doing that, they found risk of early death was 92% higher among those with RLS than those without. Factors such as weight, sleep disorders, exercise or eating habits had little effect on the initial outcome of the study. Gao says it's "unlikely those uncontrolled factors could explain such big effects."

The exact cause for the disorder or why it would raise a person's risk of dying earlier than normal has yet to be determined. That, Gao says, "is the next question to answer."

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders, approximately 10% of the American population may have the disorder though the majority remain undiagnosed. In prior research, Gao found men with the condition aren't the only ones facing bleak outcomes, as women are more likely to develop RLS, which is linked to a higher risk of developing heart disease.

Previous studies tell a different story. An analysis of four earlier studies in late 2012 from researchers in the USA and other nations found that RLS didn't raise the odds that someone might die earlier than normal.

One of the authors of those studies, András Szentkirályi, a research fellow at Germany's Semmel University's Institute of Behavioral Sciences, says he "questions the results," noting the previous four studies looked at a general population while Gao's study focused on a narrower group, Szentkirályi says he would "exercise caution if the most recent study is to be applied to the general population."

"Even with these differences, I was surprised that there were such strong relations between RLS and mortality," he says. "There still is no explanation for these findings or how to further treat it. … We need more research."

Consequently, uncovering the explanation for RLS and its effects has proved tricky, especially when considering patients with multiple conditions. The answer will reveal itself only with more research and time, says William Ondo, professor of neurology at the University of Texas' Health Science Center.

"The issue with these studies is when you look for other confounding illnesses it's always problematic," he says. "It's always going to be debatable."

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Curious if anyone here has restless leg syndrome?

I had, I believe, a form of it but am not positive but it has since stopped.
I had it in my childhood but not in my legs but my arms. From the wrists to the elbow.

It wasn't that my arms jerked around.
The only way I can describe it is this way....when you lay down on your bed, you don't really feel your legs, or your arms. Yes, they are there but if you don't have any problems with them, there is no need to focus upon them, hence, no need to notice they are there, if you understand what i mean.

Enter what i assume is restless arm syndrome and as you are trying to sleep, you become extremely aware of your arm, or arms, although in my case it was usually only in one, at a time.
You become aware and agitated. Its as if the nerves inside are doing something unexplainable.
You can't just lie there and go to sleep.
You must stick your arm under something, such as a pillow with your head on it, in hopes that you will "calm" it down, whatever "it" is.
But that only works for a few seconds.
You then become agitated again for your arm will just not rest. You feel it and the more agitated you become, the worse you feel it.
You will do anything. I went as far as laying on the side of the bed as much as i could without falling off and trying to stick my arm in between the two mattresses hoping the weight would stop me from feeling this annoying feeling...........but again, if I did manage to fall asleep, I'd likely wake up within 20 minutes and start the process over again.
When becoming more agitated and unable to sleep, I found that if I got up, and got into a bath and lay in it, with my arm submerged, somehow that alone would relieve the problem, but only as long as I remained in the water and by which point when you get there you are so tired, the thought of potentially drowning in the water should you fall asleep is ok........anything just to get rid of it.

It happened occasionally and to this day i don't know why or what it was but over the years read of sleepless leg syndrome and believe it to be the same.

The only other times it happened was in adulthood was on 2 separate occasions that i was given moriphine for kidney stones. Each time i took the narcotic for 3 or 4 days.
Within 24-36 hours of the last pill, It would happen again and knowing that I was experiencing a mild detox of sorts without the moriphine in my body I also noticed it lasted perhaps 2 nights until I was sure that the remaining narcotic was out of my system completely.
Then, no more of this arm problem.

I am not a doctor but IF what i am describing is restless leg syndrome but in the arms instead, knowing as child or teenager that i was not being given any drugs/narcotics, I must wonder about the association to the narcotic withdrawal.
Whatever the drug was doing to my body while in mild withdrawal, I assume must have a comparison effect of some sort that would have caused it in childhood without drugs being taken.

I don't get it anymore but would refuse moriphine like substances in future knowing full well that it would cause it again.

IF anyone has restless leg syndrome and can verify that this is the same thing, please let me know.
Further if it is, what would one imagine could cause it in a child, if it takes a withdrawal from a narcotic to duplicate the same problem?
I would empathize with anyone that suffers from that nightly. It could drive someone insane.....as I suppose any form of insomnia could. This is just worse.

Not expecting anyone will be able but on the off chance one can, i will get a notification at my desktop and will read the answer.
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