The association between restless legs syndrome (RLS) and Parkinson's disease (PD) has been extensively studied with inconclusive results; therefore, we prospectively examined the associations of the presence of RLS with development of incident PD.Methods:
From a nationally representative prospective cohort of almost 3.5 million US veterans (age: 60 ± 14 years, 93% male, median follow-up time of 7.8 years [interquartile range: 6.4-8.4 years]), we created a propensity-matched cohort of 100882 PD-free patients and examined the association between prevalent RLS and incident PD. This association was also assessed in the entire cohort. Associations were examined using Cox models.Results:
There were 68 incident PD events (0.13%, incidence rate 1.87 [1.48-2.37]/10000 patient-years) in the RLS-negative group, and 185 incident PD events (0.37%, incidence rate 4.72 [4.09-5.45]/10000 patient-years) in the RLS-positive group in the propensity-matched cohort. Prevalent RLS was associated with more than twofold higher risk of incident PD (hazard ratio [HR]: 2.57, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.95-3.39) compared to RLS-negative patients. Qualitatively similar results were found when we examined the entire 3.5 million cohort: Prevalent RLS was associated with more than twofold higher risk of incident PD (multivariable adjusted HR: 2.81, 95%CI: 2.41-3.27).Conclusion:
RLS and PD share common risk factors. In this large cohort of US veterans, we found that prevalent RLS is associated with higher risk of incident PD during 8 years of follow-up, suggesting that RLS could be an early clinical feature of incident PD.