J Sleep Med.  2018 Dec;15(2):68-73. 10.13078/jsm.18015.

Cardiac Activation Associated with Non-Periodic Leg Movements in Comparison to Periodic Leg Movements during Sleep in Patients with Restless Legs Syndrome and Healthy Subjects

  • 1Department of Neurology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. jungky@snu.ac.kr
  • 2Department of Neurology, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea.
  • 3Department of Neurology, School of Medicine, Kyungpook National University, Kyungpook National University Chilgok Hospital, Daegu, Korea.
  • 4Program in Neuroscience, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 5Neuroscience Research Institute, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


Periodic leg movements in sleep (PLMS) are associated with arousals and autonomic activation, which may contribute to higher cardiovascular disease risk in patients with restless legs syndrome (RLS). Non-periodic leg movements in sleep (NPLM) are leg jerks in sleep that does not satisfy standard criteria of PLMS. The aim of this study was to evaluate impact of short-interval leg movements in sleep (SILMS) and isolated leg movements in sleep (ILMS) in comparison to PLMS on heart rate in both patients with RLS and healthy controls.
Seven idiopathic RLS patients and 9 controls were enrolled in this study. Polysomnographic studies were analyzed and leg movements (LM) were automatically detected. NPLM can be classified as SILMS and ILMS. SILMS are LM separated by an inter-movement interval (IMI) shorter than 10 s, and ILMS are LM with IMI longer than 90 s. Frequency and heart rate associated with SILMS, ILMS, and PLMS in RLS patients were compared to those in controls. Heart rate change associated with LM were determined for a fixed time window.
Frequencies of SILMS and ILMS of patients with RLS were not significantly different to those of controls. RLS patients presented higher heart rate change associated with SILMS than PLMS before movement onset, while heart rate change associated with SILMS, ILMS, and PLMS were not different in the controls.
Although the number of SILMS is not higher than PLMS, SILMS may have closely associated with higher cardiac activation of RLS than PLMS. Therefore, SILMS might be an important treatment target for patients with RLS to reduce long-term cardiovascular risk. Long-term prospective studies are needed to evaluate the relationship between NPLM and cardiovascular disease in patients with RLS.


Periodic limb movement during sleep; Heart rate; Intermovement interval; Restless legs syndrome
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