Restless Legs Syndrome Linked to Other Health Woes

Study finds more insomnia and depression in patients with the movement disorder

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THURSDAY, Nov. 3, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Adults with restless legs syndrome (RLS) often experience physical and mental health problems linked to the disorder, a new study shows.

"There is a strong association between physical and mental health problems, and RLS," study author Dr. Barbara A. Phillips, president of the National Sleep Foundation and a professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, said in a prepared statement.

"It is possible that RLS causes mood disturbance. It is also possible the medications used to treat mood disturbance cause RLS. In addition, behaviors that are risk factors for RLS, such as smoking, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, are more prevalent in those with psychiatric illnesses," Phillips said.

Her findings were presented Monday at the American College of Chest Physicians meeting, in Montreal.

The NSF's annual sleep poll surveyed 1,506 U.S. adults. Respondents were believed to be at risk for RLS if they reported unpleasant sensations in the legs for at least a few nights a week. Of the respondents, 9.7 percent reported having RLS symptoms.

People in the south and west of the country were more likely to be at risk for RLS than people in the Northeast, the poll found. Those who were overweight, unemployed or smoked daily were also more likely to be at risk for RLS, along with people who had hypertension, arthritis, gastrointestinal reflux disease, depression, anxiety and diabetes.

Adults at risk for RLS also seemed to have a greater risk of insomnia and sleep apnea, and were more likely than those without RLS to take longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep. They were also more likely to experience drowsy driving, daytime fatigue, being late for work, making work errors, and missing work and social events due to sleepiness.

More information

We Move has more about restless legs syndrome.

SOURCE: American College of Chest Physicians, news release, Oct. 31, 2005

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