Restless legs syndrome and periodic limb movements during sleep in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis

Thu T. Doan, Brian B. Koo, Rachel P. Ogilvie, Susan Redline, Pamela L Lutsey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Study Objectives: To investigate the prevalence of concurrent periodic limb movements during sleep (PLMS) and restless leg syndrome (RLS), as well as the prevalence of PLMS and RLS separately. Additionally, we document these prevalences by age, race/ethnicity, sex, and obesity status. Methods: Cross-sectional data from 2041 Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) Sleep ancillary study participants were used. PLMS (>15 periodic limb movements per hour of sleep) was measured by polysomnography. RLS symptoms were assessed using the 2009 International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group clinical criteria. Results: The prevalence of RLS with PLMS was 6.7%, RLS alone 16.1%, and PLMS alone 21.2%. RLS with PLMS was prevalent in 7.0% of whites, 4.9% of blacks, 10.1% of Hispanics, and 3.3% of Chinese-Americans. In adjusted models, odds of RLS with PLMS was higher for those older than 67 years versus those younger (odds ratio [OR] [95% confidence interval [CI]] = 1.62 [1.09-2.40]). Relative to white participants, the prevalence of RLS with PLMS tended to be lower among blacks (0.56 [0.32-0.96]). The prevalence of concurrent RLS and PLMS did not statistically differ by sex or obesity status. RLS alone was more common in women Conclusions: Approximately 7% of our sample had RLS with PLMS (electro-clinical RLS). This condition was more common among older individuals, did not vary by sex, and was less common among blacks. The findings provide some of the first information about the prevalence of concurrent RLS and PLMS in a community-based sample and show distinct sex and race associations for RLS versus electro-clinical RLS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute grants (R01HL098433 [MESA Sleep] and T32-HL069764) and contracts (HHSN268201500003I, N01-HC-95159, N01-HC-95160, N01-HC-95161, N01-HC-95162, N01-HC-95163, N01-HC-95164, N01-HC-95165, N01-HC-95166, N01-HC-95167, N01-HC-95168, and N01-HC-95169). Additional support was from grants UL1-TR-000040, UL1-TR-001079, and UL1-TR-001420 from National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© Sleep Research Society 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Sleep Research Society. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis
  • period leg movements
  • racial differences
  • restless leg syndrome

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