The urge to move and breathe - the impact of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome treatment in patients with previously diagnosed, clinically significant restless legs syndrome.Sleep Med 2017; 38:17-20SM
The association between restless legs syndrome (RLS) and obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) has seldom been reported. There is one study reporting improvement of RLS symptoms severity in patients naive of treatment after initiation of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) for OSAS. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of the OSAS treatment in patients with previously diagnosed, clinically significant RLS in a usual clinical setting.
This was a retrospective study of RLS patients from a sleep clinic with a concomitant or subsequent diagnosis of OSAS. All patients who started treatment for OSAS and had a follow-up of ≥3 months were selected. Exclusion criteria included noncompliance, absence of sufficient information on clinical records, and RLS improvement following treatment of secondary causes. The primary outcome variable was clinical status of RLS symptoms following OSA treatment. Other variables included demographics, RLS treatment and outcome, OSA diagnosis, treatment, compliance, outcome, and PSG characteristics.
From a database of 97 RLS patients, 56 patients had both OSA and RLS. Of these patients, 28 met the criteria for the study. In all, 17 patients (60.9%) were female, with a mean age 60 years. A total of 16 patients (57.1%) were diagnosed with idiopathic RLS. OSAS was diagnosed, on average, 21 months after the RLS diagnosis. A total of 19 (70.4%) patients were overweight or obese, 26 (92.9%) reported snoring, and 10 (35.7%) witnessed apneas. A total of 16 patients (57.1%) had excessive daytime sleepiness and 23 (84.1%) had insomnia. The mean apnea-hypopnea index was 19. Patients were mostly treated with dopamine agonists (19 patients, 67.9%) for the RLS, and nine patients were treated with more than two drugs for RLS. A total of 20 patients (71.4%) had improvement of symptoms of RLS after therapy for OSAS, of whom nine stopped drug therapy and eight reduced the dose.
In patients with clinically significant RLS, treatment of concomitant OSAS significantly improved RLS symptoms, enabling drug therapy reduction in more than half of the patients. These data reinforce the need to actively diagnose OSAS in RLS patients.