Vascular risk factors, cardiovascular disease, and restless legs syndrome in men

Am J Med. 2013 Mar;126(3):228-35, 235.e1-2. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2012.06.039.


Background: The prevalence of vascular risk factors, cardiovascular disease, and restless legs syndrome increases with age. Prior studies analyzing the associations between vascular risk factors, cardiovascular disease, and restless legs syndrome found controversial results. We therefore aim to evaluate the associations between prevalent vascular risk factors, prevalent cardiovascular disease, and restless legs syndrome.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study among 22,786 participants of the US Physicians' Health Studies I and II. Restless legs syndrome was classified according to the 4 minimal diagnostic criteria. Vascular risk factors and restless legs syndrome symptoms were self-reported. Prevalent cardiovascular disease events, including major cardiovascular disease, stroke, and myocardial infarction, were confirmed by medical record review. Age- and multivariable-adjusted logistic regression models were used to evaluate the association among vascular risk factors, prevalent cardiovascular disease events, and restless legs syndrome.

Results: The mean age of the cohort was 67.8 years. The prevalence of restless legs syndrome was 7.5% and increased significantly with age. Diabetes significantly increased the odds of restless legs syndrome (odds ratio [OR], 1.41; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.21-1.65), whereas frequent exercise (OR, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.67-0.91) and alcohol consumption of 1 or more drinks per day (OR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.69-0.92) significantly reduced the odds of restless legs syndrome in multivariable-adjusted models. Prevalent stroke showed an increased multivariable-adjusted OR of 1.40 (1.05-1.86), whereas men with prevalent myocardial infarction had a decreased OR of 0.73 (0.55-0.97) for restless legs syndrome.

Conclusions: The restless legs syndrome prevalence among US male physicians is similar to that of men of the same age group in other western countries. A history of diabetes is the most consistent risk factor associated with restless legs syndrome. Prevalent stroke and myocardial infarction are related to restless legs syndrome prevalence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / complications
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Complications / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / complications
  • Myocardial Infarction / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Restless Legs Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Restless Legs Syndrome / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / complications
  • Stroke / epidemiology
  • Vascular Diseases / complications
  • Vascular Diseases / epidemiology*