Restless legs syndrome after high-risk TIA and minor stroke: association with reduced quality of life

Sleep Med. 2017 Sep;37:135-140. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2017.05.020. Epub 2017 Jun 30.


Background: Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a movement disorder that is associated with poor quality of life and depressive symptoms in the general population. Emerging evidence suggests that RLS is closely associated with cerebrovascular disease. We assessed the effect of RLS on quality of life after stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA).

Methods: In this single-center prospective study, we recruited patients within 14 days of high-risk TIA or minor stroke. Patients were diagnosed with RLS using a questionnaire based on the 2003 International RLS Study Group criteria, and diagnoses were confirmed by a sleep neurologist. Follow-up assessments were conducted within 2-6 months of recruitment. The outcome of quality of life was measured using the Stroke-specific Quality of Life (SS-QoL).

Results: Of the 94 patients recruited into the study, 23 (24.4%) were diagnosed with RLS: 11 were newly diagnosed with RLS and 12 had RLS preceding the index stroke/TIA. There were no significant differences in baseline characteristics between those with or without RLS. Median SS-QoL in patients with RLS was lower at baseline (p = 0.008) and at follow-up (p = 0.002). RLS patients had more depressive symptoms at follow-up (p = 0.007). Ordinal logistic regression demonstrated that RLS was negatively associated with quality of life at baseline (OR = 0.28; p = 0.010) and at follow-up (OR = 0.14; p = 0.029), independent of functional outcome and depressive symptoms.

Conclusions: RLS is common after stroke or TIA and negatively affects the quality of life. Screening for RLS after cerebrovascular events may be warranted, and future research should assess whether treatment of RLS can improve post-stroke quality of life.

Keywords: Cerebrovascular diseases; Quality of life; Restless legs syndrome; Stroke; Transient ischemic attack.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Comorbidity
  • Depression
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / complications*
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / psychology
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / therapy
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Restless Legs Syndrome / etiology*
  • Restless Legs Syndrome / psychology
  • Restless Legs Syndrome / therapy
  • Stroke / complications*
  • Stroke / psychology
  • Stroke / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome