The diurnal nature of restless legs syndrome (RLS) and its response to dopamine hint that hormones are central in RLS pathophysiology. Hypothyroidism has been linked to RLS, but studies are limited. This study’s objective is to determine whether RLS is more prevalent in persons with hypothyroidism and whether hypothyroidism is more prevalent in RLS sufferers. Persons with hypothyroidism and controls were recruited through an on-line registry of potential research participants. RLS was assessed using the Cambridge-Hopkins questionnaire. RLS persons and controls were recruited through RLS Foundation and on-line registry advertisements and assessed for hypothyroidism by self-report. The International RLS Study Group Severity Scale assessed RLS severity; 266 hypothyroid subjects and 321 controls were comparable in age (52.3 ± 13.4 versus 53.9 ± 11.7 years; p = .14) and gender (91.7% versus 91.3% women; p = .85), as were 354 RLS and 313 controls (59.1 ± 13.2 versus 58.2 ± 13.6 years; p = .41; 80.8% versus 78.3% women; p = .42). Hypothyroid participants versus controls had a significantly higher prevalence of RLS (14.3% versus 8.1%; p = .02). RLS participants versus controls had a significantly higher prevalence of hypothyroidism (22.3% versus. 13.8%; p = .005). RLS severity was similar in persons with and without hypothyroidism. Among 73 persons with RLS and hypothyroidism, 14 previously were hyperthyroid versus 0 of 37 persons with hypothyroidism alone (p = .004). RLS prevalence is increased in individuals with hypothyroidism; hypothyroidism prevalence is increased in individuals with RLS. Persons with hypothyroidism and RLS are significantly more likely than those with hypothyroidism alone to have had hyperthyroidism prior to hypothyroidism. Associations between RLS and thyroid disease may shed light on complex biological mechanisms underlying RLS.
© 2020 European Sleep Research Society.

References

PubMed