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The Use of Iron in the Treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome

14 August 2010


Background: A growing body of research is addressing the role iron plays in Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) pathology and treatment. Caring for patients suffering from this disease, one sees the interruption to, and tangible frustration in, the lives of these patients. Consensus for treatment modalities is incomplete. The goal of this systematic review of literature is to provide a complete picture of the role iron plays in the treatment of RLS.

Methods: Wide-ranging search of available medical literature. The keywords: Iron, Anemia, Treatment, Restless Legs Syndrome, and Clinical Trial were used in the MEDLINE, CINAHL, Evidence-Based Medicine Reviews Multifile and Web of Science databases.

Results: The search revealed over 25 articles. The literature used in this systematic literature review was limited to randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled, studies published after 2000. In a majority of these studies iron supplementation was shown to produce a statistically significant reduction in patient symptoms.

Conclusion: Intravenous (IV) iron supplementation combined with sleep hygiene counseling, is a potential first-line treatment option for patients with Restless Legs Syndrome. Serum ferritin must be monitored before initiating treatment and quarterly once treatment is underway to ensure Hemocromatosis is avoided. Oral dosage of iron requires proper dosage techniques to allow for effective absorption. Attention to this important factor proved lacking in some trials showing no benefit in oral iron supplementation. More information regarding oral and IV iron effectiveness and dosing requirements is necessary for iron to become a universally recognized 1st line treatment option.


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