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Sleep Med Rev. 2012 Aug;16(4):309-39. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2011.04.001. Epub 2011 Jul 5.

Restless legs syndrome and conditions associated with metabolic dysregulation, sympathoadrenal dysfunction, and cardiovascular disease risk: a systematic review.

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Department of Community Medicine, West Virginia University School of Medicine, PO Box 9190, Morgantown, WV 26506-9190, USA.


Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a distressing sleep and sensorimotor disorder that affects a large percentage of adults in the western industrialized world and is associated with profound reductions in quality of life. However, the etiology of RLS remains incompletely understood. Enhanced understanding regarding both the antecedents and sequelae of RLS could shed new light on the pathogenesis of RLS. Evidence from an emerging body of literature suggests associations between RLS and diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and related conditions linked to sympathetic activation and metabolic dysregulation, raising the possibility that these factors may likewise play a significant role in the development and progression of RLS, and could help explain the recently documented associations between RLS and subsequent cardiovascular disease. However, the relation between RLS and these chronic conditions has received relatively little attention to date, although potential implications for the pathogenesis and treatment of RLS could be considerable. In this paper, we systematically review the recently published literature regarding the association of RLS to cardiovascular disease and related risk factors characterized by sympathoadrenal and metabolic dysregulation, discuss potential underlying mechanisms, and outline some possible directions for future research.

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