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Restless legs linked to health problems

People with a condition that causes fidgety legs may actually have more serious health problems, an academic has warned.

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder that produces a strong urge to move the legs.

It tends to be accompanied by a feeling of tingling or "crawling" under the skin. The sensation is often worse in the evening or at night.

A sleep expert said that the disorder could be a "possible biomarker for underlying disease".

Neurologist Sanford Auerbach said that screening for the condition may become more common as a tool for GPs to identify patients at risk.


The comments come after a study of 12,556 men who were followed over time by the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study which found "multiple disease associations" with RLS.

Earlier analysis of the men concluded that those with RLS were more likely to be diagnosed with lung disease, endocrine disease, nutrition and metabolism diseases and immune system problems.

In an editorial in the journal Neurology, the associate professor at Boston University's School of Medicine said: "Patients with RLS had a higher mortality rate than similar men and showed an especially strong tendency toward cardiovascular disease and hypertension."

He suggests that RLS is a "meaningful biomarker" for serious disease.