Public Release: 

Study links severe restless legs syndrome to increased risk of stroke

RLS can be considered a clinical marker or early risk factor of stroke, which has potential for modifications in clinical management

American Academy of Sleep Medicine

DARIEN, IL - A new study suggests that increased restless legs syndrome (RLS) severity is associated with subsequent increased risk of stroke.

Results show that increased RLS severity is associated with subsequent increased risk of stroke, after considering other known risk factors such as age, smoking, hypertension, and unhealthy diet. There were 161 incident stroke cases during the six-year follow-up.

"We were surprised at the importance of taking into account RLS severity -- it was only severe RLS, not milder RLS, that was associated with increased risk of stroke," said principal investigator and senior author Xiang Gao, associate professor and Director, Nutritional Epidemiology Lab, department of Nutritional Sciences at The Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pa.

The research abstract was published recently in an online supplement of the journal Sleep and will be presented Monday, June 8, in Seattle, Washington, at SLEEP 2015, the 29th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC.

The study group comprised 72,916 female registered nurses ages 41-58 years in 2005, free of diabetes, stroke, and pregnancy at the baseline. Information on RLS was collected via a questionnaire which was based on International RLS Study Group criteria.


The study was supported with funding by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Abstract Title: Restless Leg Syndrome is Associated with Subsequent Development of Stroke: A Prospective Study of the Nurses Health Study II Cohort

Abstract ID: 0710
Presentation Date: Monday, June 8
Presentation Type: Oral
Presentation Time: 2 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.

The SLEEP 2015 abstract supplement is available at

For a copy of the abstract or to arrange an interview with the study author or an AASM spokesperson, please contact AASM Communications Coordinator Lynn Celmer at 630-737-9700, ext. 9364, or

About SLEEP 2015

More than 5,000 sleep medicine physicians and sleep scientists will gather at SLEEP 2015, the 29th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS), which will be held June 6-10 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. The scientific program will include about 1,200 research abstract presentations. The APSS is a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society (

About the American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Established in 1975, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) improves sleep health and promotes high quality patient centered care through advocacy, education, strategic research, and practice standards. With nearly 10,000 members, the AASM is the largest professional membership society for physicians, scientists and other health care providers dedicated to sleep medicine (

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