BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: Evidence of a relationship between non-breathing-related sleep symptoms and silent markers of cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) is scarce. The present study aimed to evaluate this association in older people living in rural Ecuador, where the burden of stroke is on the rise.
METHODS: A group of Atahualpa residents, aged ≥60 years, were interviewed with a validated Spanish version of the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, and underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for identification of silent markers of SVD. Using multinomial logistic regression analysis, after adjusting for demographics and cardiovascular health status, it was evaluated whether sleep quality is associated with the severity of white matter hyperintensity (WMH), lacunar infarcts, and deep microbleeds.
RESULTS: Out of 311 people aged ≥60 years, 237 (76%) were enrolled into the study. Mean age was 70 ± 8 years, 59% were women, 83% had primary school education only, and 73% had a poor cardiovascular health status. Seventy-eight (33%) had poor sleep quality. The MRI showed: WMH in 154 (65%) participants (moderate-to-severe in 52); silent lacunar infarcts in 28 (12%); and deep microbleeds in 17 (7%). Poor sleep quality was associated with WMH presence (OR 2.44, 95% CI 1.26 to 4.71, p = 0.008) and severity (β coefficient 0.77, SE 0.37, p = 0.037), but not with silent lacunar infarcts or deep microbleeds.
The present study showed an association between poor sleep quality and WMH severity. Further longitudinal studies would help to elucidate the cause and effect of this relationship.