A new study indicates that increased restless legs syndrome (RLS) severity is linked to subsequent increased risk of stroke. According to a news release from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the results suggest 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. The release notes that there was a total of 161 stroke cases during the 6-year follow-up.

Xiang Gao, MD, PhD, associate professor, and director Nutritional Epidemiology Lab, department of Nutritional Sciences at The Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pa, states that researchers were surprised by the importance of taking into account RLS severity.

“It was only severe RLS, not milder RLS, that was associated with increased risk of stroke,” Gao explains in the release.

The research abstract appeared in an online supplement of the journal Sleep.

The release notes that the study group encompassed 72,916 female registered nurses aged 41 to 58 years old in 2005, free of diabetes, stroke, and pregnancy at the baseline. Information on RLS was collected through a questionnaire, which was based on International RLS Study Group criteria.

The release also notes that the study was supported with funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

[Source: American Academy of Sleep]