Restless legs syndrome and functional limitations among American elders in the Health and Retirement Study.

TitleRestless legs syndrome and functional limitations among American elders in the Health and Retirement Study.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsCirillo, DJ, Wallace, RB
JournalBMC Geriatr
Date Published2012 Jul 26
ISSN Number1471-2318
KeywordsActivities of Daily Living, Age Factors, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Body Mass Index, Cross-Sectional Studies, Disabled Persons, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Prevalence, Restless Legs Syndrome, Risk Factors, United States

BACKGROUND: Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a common condition associated with decreased quality of life in older adults. This study estimates the prevalence, risk factors, and functional correlates of among U.S. elders.

METHODS: Subjects (n = 1,008) were sub-sampled from the 2002 cross-sectional interview survey of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a nationally representative study of U.S. elders. Symptoms and sleep disturbances consistent with RLS were identified. Activities of daily living (ADL), instrumental activities of daily living (IADL), and limitations for mobility, large muscle groups, gross and fine motor function were measured using standardized questions. Incident functional limitations were detected over six years of observation.

RESULTS: The prevalence of RLS among U.S. elders born before 1947 was 10.6%. Factors associated with increased prevalence RLS at baseline included: overweight body mass index (multivariate adjusted prevalence ratio = 1.77; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.05-2.99); mild-to-moderate pain (2.67, 1.47-4.84) or pain inferring with activity (3.44, 2.00-5.93); three or more chronic medications (2.54, 1.26-5.12), highest quartile of out-of-pocket medical expenses (2.12, 1.17-3.86), frequent falls (2.63, 1.49-4.66), health limiting ability to work (2.91, 1.75-4.85), or problems with early waking or frequent wakening (1.69, 1.09-2.62 and 1.55, 1.00-2.41, respectively). Current alcohol consumption (0.59, 0.37-0.92) and frequent healthcare provider visits (0.49, 0.27-0.90) were associated with decreased RLS prevalence. RLS did not predict incident disability for aggregate measures but was associated with increased risk for specific limitations, including: difficulty climbing several stair flights (multivariate-adjusted hazard ratio = 2.38, 95% CI 1.39-4.06), prolonged sitting (2.17, 1.25-3.75), rising from a chair (2.54, 1.62-3.99), stooping (2.66, 1.71-4.15), moving heavy objects (1.79, 1.08-2.99), carrying ten pounds (1.61, 1.05-2.97), raising arms (1.76, 1.05-2.97), or picking up a dime (1.97, 1.12-3.46).

CONCLUSIONS: RLS sufferers are more likely to have functional disability, even after adjusting for health status and pain syndrome correlates.

User Guide Notes

Endnote Keywords

Restless legs syndrome/activities of daily living/ADL/IADL/mobility/Functional Assessment/Quality of Life

Endnote ID


Alternate JournalBMC Geriatr
Citation Key7676
PubMed ID22834914
PubMed Central IDPMC3433378
Grant ListT32 GM007337 / GM / NIGMS NIH HHS / United States
U01 AG009740 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
T32 GM07337 / GM / NIGMS NIH HHS / United States
U01 AG00 9740 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States