“Legs are cramping so bad I am almost in tears.”
A MyHeartDiseaseTeam member
“I still cope with night leg cramps. I have tried many things.”
A MyHeartDiseaseTeam member
Leg cramps are a familiar – and painful – experience for many members on MyHeartDiseaseTeam. If you have dealt with leg cramps and other types of muscle pain, you are not alone. Members often discuss possible causes of leg cramps and which treatments have worked for them.
If you feel pain mainly when you are active, your leg cramps may be caused by poor circulation known as claudication. The good news is that lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, getting more exercise, and controlling your cholesterol and blood sugar may help. Your doctor can diagnose claudication and recommend treatments.
Some members identify heart disease medications as being the cause of their leg cramps. Statins, a category of cholesterol-lowering drugs, are often as associated with side effects such as leg cramps. “The statins are awful,” wrote one member. “They have upped the dose, cramps in legs and feet, weird dreams.” Nitrates are also mentioned. One member said, “My GP [general practitioner] agreed with me over the phone to stop taking the nitrate Isosorbide because of the side effects of headaches and cramps in the legs.”
If you believe medications may be causing your leg cramps, ask your doctor whether changing your dosage or switching drugs may help. “Leg cramps [are] my main worry,” reported one MyHeartDiseaseTeam member. “[I’ve] just come off Atorvastatin [Lipitor] to see if it is causing the cramps. Cramps don’t seem totally gone, but do seem less frequent and not waking me up at night as often.”
Drinking too little water can lead to leg cramps. Cramps due to dehydration may be more likely at night if you drink less water to prevent getting up to use the bathroom. “I do get cramps,” one member wrote. “I find it's due to dehydration.”
Members of MyHeartDiseaseTeam recommend a number of home remedies that have worked to ease their leg cramps:
Pickle juice: “Believe it or not, but dill pickle juice stops leg cramps right away.”
Magnesium: “I take a magnesium supplement. That seems to have solved my problems with cramping in the calves of legs.”
Walking: “Walking is effective for me too.”
Potassium: “Bananas (potassium) might help.”
Water: “So I hobbled over to the bathroom and drank a glass of water. I was OK in an hour.”
It is a frightening thought, but people with heart failure have a higher risk for developing a blood clot in the leg, also known as deep vein thrombosis or DVT. A blood clot can cause leg pain as well as warmth, discoloration, and swelling in the affected leg. A DVT can be very serious. If you are worried you may have developed a DVT, contact your doctor.
Here are some conversations about leg cramps and heart disease:
Here are a few question-and-answer threads about leg cramps:
Do you get experience leg cramps? If so, has anything worked to prevent or treat them? Comment below or post on MyHeartDiseaseTeam.