An eight-year study of men with and without restless leg syndrome (RLS) suggests that, even taking into account age and other health factors, those with RLS were more likely to die prematurely. The cause of RLS is unknown and it remains a controversial diagnosis as the cause of unpleasant sensations in resting legs that compel the sufferer to move in order to obtain relief. A few years ago, there was a lot of debate as to whether this was even a real disease, though it is becoming more and more accepted amongst the medical community.

RLS is linked to heart problems and early death, especially among people with kidney disease. But even for those without chronic conditions like high blood pressure, RLS was still tied to a 92 percent higher chance of early death. Taking into account the varying health of test subjects, like age, weight, or lifestyle –almost 20,000 of whom have been followed since 2002– those who reported having uncomfortable sensations in their legs were thirty percent more likely to die during the study period, which ended in 2010.

The link between RLS and early death could be exacerbated by other factors, like poor sleep and deteriorating cardiovascular health. Poor sleep and RLS are a frustrating cycle, since each contributes to the other. Renal failure or iron deficiency might be other causes or contributors to RLS.

Medication like pramipexole (sold as Mirapex) or ropinirole (Requip), which are both drugs for Parkinson’s disease, treat the symptoms for RLS. Lifestyle changes, like avoiding caffeine and getting enough exercise, could also reduce or eliminate the symptoms.

Though this study is part of increased research into RLS that will help gain a better understanding of the disease, it doesn’t show that treatment of the symptoms will reduce the risk. We also don’t know if the link between RLS and early death applies to women.

Read the article here: Men’s restless legs tied to earlier death: study