Objective: We evaluated the cross-sectional association between restless legs syndrome (RLS) and prevalent cardiovascular disease (CVD) in a large community-based sample of middle-aged and elderly subjects.
Methods: This is a cross-sectional observational study of 1,559 men and 1,874 women (mean age of 67.9 years) who were enrolled in the Sleep Heart Health Study, a community-based study of the cardiovascular consequences of sleep-disordered breathing. RLS was defined by positive responses on a self-administered questionnaire to the four diagnostic criteria, with symptoms occurring at least five times per month and associated with at least moderate distress. Coronary artery disease (CAD) was determined by self-report of doctor-diagnosed angina, myocardial infarction, or coronary revascularization procedure. Total CVD included CAD or history of physician-diagnosed stroke or heart failure. The relation of RLS to prevalent CAD and CVD was examined by multivariable logistic regression models
Results: RLS was present in 6.8% of women (n = 128) and 3.3% of men (n = 51). After adjustment for age, sex, race, body mass index, diabetes mellitus, systolic blood pressure, antihypertensive medication use, total:high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio, and smoking history, the ORs for CAD were 2.05 (95% CI 1.38 to 3.04) and for CVD were 2.07 (1.43 to 3.00) for subjects with RLS compared to those without RLS. The associations of RLS with CAD and CVD were stronger in those with RLS symptoms at least 16 times per month and were stronger in those with severe than in those with moderately bothersome symptoms.
Conclusions: Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is associated with prevalent coronary artery disease and cardiovascular disease. This association appears stronger in those with greater frequency or severity of RLS symptoms.