The first multinational study to assess patients considered to have diagnostic criteria for Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), a chronic and disruptive neurological disorder characterized by a compelling urge to move the legs, found that the condition is common, under-diagnosed, and can significantly impact sleep and daily activities. Results of the R.E.S.T. (RLS Epidemiology, Symptoms, and Treatment) General Population Study, a population-based survey completed by telephone and face-to-face interviews, are published in the current issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Medical Association. Another arm of the R.E.S.T. study, called the R.E.S.T. Primary Care Study, was published in the May 2004 issue of the journal Sleep Medicine, and included epidemiological information on RLS gathered from patients and doctors at primary care centers in the U.S. and Europe.
After obtaining background information from 15,391 study participants, researchers collected details from the respondents that reported experiencing RLS symptoms at any time in the past year, about the frequency and nature of their RLS symptoms, the degree of associated distress, and prior physician consultation and diagnosis. The percentage of patients who reported having RLS symptoms at any frequency was 7.2 percent. A subset of these patients (2.7 percent of study participants overall), defined as RLS sufferers, reported having symptoms two to three times per week and symptoms that were moderately or severely distressing (n=416). Eighty-one percent of these RLS sufferers (n=337) reported discussing their symptoms with a primary care physician yet only 6.2 percent indicated that they were given a diagnosis of RLS.
"One of the biggest issues facing those with symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome is obtaining appropriate diagnosis and management," said Nancy L. Earl, M.D., Group Director Clinical Neurology, GlaxoSmithKline, the company that funded the R.E.S.T. General Population Study. "Millions of people suffer from RLS yet some physicians may not connect certain physical and sensorimotor symptoms to RLS, resulting in a sizeable population that is not getting medical attention or diagnosis."
Holly Russell | EurekAlert!
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