Does Cardiovascular Disease Cause RLS?

2 min read

Does Cardiovascular Disease Cause RLS?

by Bradley Gillespie, PharmD

A 2008 Harvard Medical School study  examined the association between Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) and cardiovascular disease. Their sample for this evaluation was more than 1,500 men and nearly 1,900 women with an average age of about 68 years. 

RLS and Heart Disease Study

In the study by John Winkelman, MD, PhD, of the Division of Sleep Medicine, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, RLS was diagnosed by the subjects responses to a validated, self-administered questionnaire. Coronary artery disease (CAD) was diagnosed based on the presence of angina, history of heart attack or angioplasty. Cardiovascular disease (CVD), by definition, included CAD history of stroke. The relationship between RLS and CVD was determined using validated statistical tools.


Of all of the subjects enrolled in the trial, it was determined that overall, RLS was present in about 7% of women and 3% of men. After the final statistical analysis, it was determined that the incidence of both CAD and CVD was twice as prevalent in patients suffering from the symptoms of RLS as in those that were not afflicted. The associations tended to be even stronger in cases of patients who had RLS symptoms at least 16 times per month, and stronger yet in patients with the most severe symptoms.

Based on these findings, Dr. Winkelman and colleagues concluded that RLS is associated with a greater prevalence of coronary artery and cardiovascular disease, with the highest association in patients with more frequent or severe symptoms.

While this study does not determine if cardiovascular disease is causing RLS, or vice-versa, it does show a very strong correlation. Based on similar work showing the impact of sleep deprivation and resultant stress on human pathology, it makes sense to treat the symptoms of RLS. Calm Legs, a high-quality formulation with a benign safety profile, is designed to provide effective treatment RLS. This supplement can provide relief from the symptoms of RLS and help sufferers get a good night’s sleep.

Restless Legs sufferer Bradley Gillespie, PharmD, is trained as a clinical pharmacist and has practiced in an industrial setting for the past 20-plus years. Currently, he supports efforts at the National Institutes of Health to develop therapeutics for rare and neglected diseases. He remains a registered pharmacist and operates a medical writing business.

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