Restless Leg Syndrome and it's affects on the elderly
Restless leg syndrome seems to be more prevalent in the elderly. The department of geriatrics in Liverpool, U.K., conducted a study that tested the levels of ferritin in the blood of 18 patients, it was found that these patients were found to have lower levels, in turn had a history of RLS. In turn, 18 patients with normal levels did not have the symptoms of RLS. The results provided proof that ferritin levels in the body were directly related to the severity of RLS. While many reports have stated that the low levels of iron, B12 vitamins, folic acid and hemoglobin also play a part in RLS, the Liverpool study did not notice a difference as both groups, no matter the levels in their body, showed not difference between the two. When patients with RLS were given iron supplements over the period of two months, they saw good results and a reduction in symptoms. This, according to researchers, is definite proof that an iron deficiency in the body contributes directly to the development and severity of RLS.
Related to RLS is Akathisia, which also presents symptoms of inner restlessness, or the urge to be constantly in motion. The two may be confused, while the difference can be various. Unlike RLS, Akathisia's movements are voluntary where RLS they are involuntary. Akathisia can be caused by anti-psychotic drugs, making it a secondary disorder, though has been known to occur for no reason. How this relates to the elderly or even patients in general is often the elderly have a higher tendency to become depressed. In turn medications are prescribed, some leading to the secondary symptoms of Akathisia or RLS.
In general, people 65 or older begin to develop trouble falling asleep, or may not sleep through the night, waking early in the morning. This is also common as we age the sleep cycle changes, causing us to adjust the way we go through our day and activities. Common causes will include alcohol, caffeine and smoking, especially close to bedtime. However, many sleep issues may be cause by illness, pain or medication keeps us from sleeping - leading to RLS and Periodic Limb Movement (PLMD).
One of the most important aspects in the treatment of RLS, particularly in the elderly, is heart disease. In both RLS and PLMD, researchers have found a relation to the disorders and changes in blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, both more prevalent in the elderly. Studies have found that blood pressures rise with the disorders, to the point of 20 points for systolic readings and 11 points for diastolic readings. Also shown is that the blood pressure changes are the development of vascular and heart damage - in addition to a higher risk of stroke, particularly among the elderly.
As with all studies and information, care should be taken before beginning any treatment. Talk with your doctor about any changes to your sleep pattern, blood pressure changes and the possibility of further of health conditions. With this information they will be able to properly treat and prevent further complications.