(HealthDay News) – Men with restless legs syndrome (RLS) have a significantly increased risk of mortality, independent of other known risk factors, according to a study published online June 12 in Neurology.

Yanping Li, PhD, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues used data from a prospective cohort of 18,425 U.S. men free of diabetes, arthritis, and renal failure participating in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study to examine the correlation between RLS and mortality. RLS was assessed using a set of standardized questions in 2002.

During eight years of follow-up, the researchers identified 2,765 deaths. RLS was associated with a significantly increased risk of mortality (hazard ratio, 1.39). After adjustment for body mass index, lifestyle factors, chronic conditions, sleep duration, and other sleep-related disorders, the correlation was slightly attenuated, but remained significant (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.3). The correlation persisted after further exclusion of those with major chronic conditions (cancer, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and other comorbidities; adjusted hazard ratio, 1.92). There were no significant interactions between RLS and other risk factors (older age, overweight, short sleep duration, smoking, low physical activity, and unhealthy diet) in relation to total mortality risk.

“The results of this study indicate that men with RLS had a higher overall mortality, which highlights the clinical importance of RLS, a common but underrecognized disorder,” the authors write. “Increasing awareness of RLS, especially training for health professions, should be encouraged if our findings are confirmed by future studies.”

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)