Table 2

Prevalence* of symptoms related to restless leg syndrome in the 2002 Health and Retirement Study (N = 1,008)
Question Age Group Gender
Total 50-64 65-79 80+ Female Male
(%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%)
Reported Leg Symptoms at Night
 Never 59.8 61.3 57.4 62.3 55.1 65.8
 Less than once/month 14.0 12.1 16.3 13.7 15.0 12.7
 At least once/month but < weekly 6.3 7.4 5.7 4.1 6.6 5.9
 At least once/week 19.9 19.2 20.6 20.0 23.3 15.6
Crawling or aching arms or legs at rest 37.9 39.8 36.4 35.7 44.0‡ 30.2‡
Restless, fidgety, or unable sit still at rest 25.2 28.1 23.5 20.2 27.9† 21.7†
Need to move, rub, or stretch legs at rest 53.0 53.7 52.0 53.4 57.0‡ 47.9‡
Twitching or kicking of arms or legs 17.9 21.2† 14.9† 15.2† 15.1† 21.4†
Itching sensations on body at rest 20.9 20.2 21.2 22.5 25.2† 15.6†
Discussed problems with doctor § 43.4 38.5† 51.1† 39.3† 44.0 42.7
Prescribed treatment for restlessness || 40.4 33.3 43.0 54.1 47.8‡ 29.8‡
Treatment helped ¶ 78.8 81.4 74.9 85.0 80.7 73.9
Case Definition ** 10.6 11.9 9.7 8.4 13.5‡ 7.0‡

* = Prevalence estimates weighted to represent non-institutionalized U.S. population aged 54 or older.

χ2 test for association in all dichotomous questions. Test for trend performed for RLS symptoms at night by gender. For age associations, test for trend was not-significant but χ2 test for nominal association was significant. † p < 0.05.

‡ p < 0.001.

§ Among those with any symptoms (n = 509).

|| = Among those who sought medical advice (n = 239);

 = Among those with prescribed treatment (n = 109).

** = Restless Legs symptoms defined as unpleasant or restless sensations in the legs at least once per month, and reporting “restless, fidgety, or unable to sit still” feelings at rest and the need to “move, rub, or stretch legs” (n = 104).

Cirillo and Wallace

Cirillo and Wallace BMC Geriatrics 2012 12:39   doi:10.1186/1471-2318-12-39

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