To compare the clinical features of autonomic dysfunction using the SCOPA-AUT questionnaire in untreated patients with restless legs syndrome (RLS) with controls, to identify factors associated with more severe autonomic symptoms, and to assess the effect of medication in patients.
The SCOPA-AUT questionnaire that evaluates cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, urinary, thermoregulatory, pupillomotor, and sexual dysfunctions was completed by 409 consecutive untreated patients with RLS (54.1 ± 14.5 y.o; 265 women) and 331 controls (59.0 ± 17.0; 161 women). Clinical and polysomnographic data were assessed in all patients. A subgroup of 57 patients were evaluated a second time after treatment (mostly dopaminergic agonist) after an interval of 0.88 ± 1.42 year.
Compared to controls, untreated patients with RLS were younger, more often women, obese, with increased cardiovascular diseases (CVD). The SCOPA-AUT total score was higher in patients than controls in unadjusted and adjusted models. Patients had more autonomic symptoms in all subdomains of the scale (except for sexual dysfunction in men). These results were confirmed in a subgroup of 259 cases and age-sex-matched controls. Female gender, obesity, RLS severity, diabetes mellitus, CVD, sleepiness, insomnia and depressive symptoms but neither periodic legs movements during sleep (PLMS) nor objective sleep parameters were associated with high scores. Despite RLS and PLMS improvement, medication did not change total and subdomain scores.
Patients with RLS have frequent and large spectrum of autonomic symptoms, without effect of PLMS, sleep fragmentation and medication. These results suggest a global autonomic dysfunction in RLS that should be assessed more systematically in severe patients.