A new study has found that restless legs syndrome (RLS), a sleep disorder characterized by the strong urge to move the legs, is more prevalent in non-African-American women.
Ammar Alkhazna, MD, University of Missouri, Kansas City, MO, and colleagues discovered that Caucasian women might suffer RLS up to four times more than African-American women.
Overall, non-African-American (NAA) patients experienced RLS four times more often than African-Americans (AA).
Dr. Alkhanza said: "There are significant ethnic differences in the prevalence of restless legs syndrome, but the exact causes of higher prevalence among Caucasians are unknown.
"This likely reflects a combination of factors, including a genetic predisposition to RLS, diet-including iron intake-medications, and possibly culture."
He continued: "Some risk factors for restless legs syndrome appear to be more common among women. Women are more likely to be iron deficient than men and have rheumatoid arthritis, which are known risk factors for RLS."
Kalpalatha Guntupalli, MD, FCCP, President of the American College of Chest Physicians, explained: "Restless legs syndrome is a common sleep disorder that may not be easily recognized by patients and clinicians.
"Educating clinicians and patients about the signs and symptoms of RLS may raise awareness about this overlooked condition and lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment."
The study was presented at CHEST 2009, the 75th annual international scientific assembly of the American College of Chest Physicians.