The Link Between Restless Leg Syndrome and Hypertension

Our bodies are strange things. Every organ, every blood vessel, and every cell is linked to the rest of the body in ways we are still working to understand. While it’s easy to see the correlation between some diseases, say obesity and sleep apnea, the relationship between some disorders aren’t as easy to understand. Since we here at are so dedicated to sleep, we’re also looking to understand the connection between restless leg syndrome and hypertension, or high blood pressure.

What is Restless Legs Syndrome?

Often precipitating insomnia, restless leg syndrome is a disorder that makes you feel like you’ve just got to move your legs to relieve the frustrating sensations of tickling, burning, or general discomfort felt while trying to fall asleep. Women are more likely to suffer from restless legs syndrome than men.

Restless legs syndrome can be exhausting and frustrating too because for those who’ve never experienced it, restless leg syndrome just sounds unreal.

What causes restless legs syndrome? For some, it’s a side effect of their SSRI medication. For others, it may be a sign of poor circulation. Speaking of poor circulation, this is where hypertension comes in.

Restless Legs Syndrome and High Blood Pressure

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, occurs when your blood pressure is routinely over 140/90 mmHg. Hypertension leads to cardiovascular damage possibly causing heart failure or stroke. So what does this have to do with restless legs? Maybe a lot. According to Harvard Medical School’s journal on hypertension, women with restless leg syndrome have an increased chance for developing hypertension. This risk can be as high as 41 percent! Studies also showed that the more frequent and severe a woman’s restless legs symptoms were, the more likely she was to have hypertension.

Some evidence also links restless legs syndrome to sleep apnea. If you believe you may be suffering from restless legs syndrome, ask your physician to assess you for sleep apnea. If you’ve got sleep apnea, treatment via a CPAP machine may help manage the feelings of pins and needles and uncomfortable legs.