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Volume 15 No. 08
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Accepted Papers

Scientific Investigations

On the Association Between Sleep Quality and Arterial Stiffness: A Population Study in Community-Dwelling Older Adults Living in Rural Ecuador (The Atahualpa Project)

Oscar H. Del Brutto, MD1; Robertino M. Mera, MD, PhD2; Ernesto Peñaherrera, MD3; Aldo F. Costa, MD1; Rubén Peñaherrera, MD1; Pablo R. Castillo, MD4
1School of Medicine, Universidad Espíritu Santo – Ecuador, Guayaquil, Ecuador;; 2Department of Epidemiology, Gilead Sciences, Inc., Foster City, California;; 3Department of Cardiology, Hospital Luis Vernaza, Guayaquil, Ecuador;; 4Sleep Disorders Center, Mayo Clinic School of Medicine, Jacksonville, Florida

Study Objectives:

Evidence of an association between atherosclerosis and sleep quality is limited and has not been studied in remote rural settings, where living conditions are different than in urban centers. We aimed to assess the relationship between the aortic pulse wave velocity (PWV) and sleep quality in older adults living in rural Ecuador.


Atahualpa residents aged 60 years or older identified during door-to-door surveys, who consented to participate, underwent face-to-face interviews with the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) to assess sleep quality. Aortic PWV determinations were performed for arterial stiffness estimation (as a surrogate of atherosclerosis).


A total of 303 individuals were included (mean age: 70.3 ± 7.8 years; 59% women). Univariate logistic regression showed a significant association between the aortic PWV and poor sleep quality (odds ratio [OR] 1.22; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.07–1.39; P = .003). A multivariate logistic regression model, adjusted for demographics, cardiovascular risk factors, oily fish intake and psychological distress showed a significant association between increased PWV and poor sleep quality (OR 1.59; 95% CI 1.12–2.25; P = .009). Similar significance was noted when the model was adjusted for neuroimaging signatures of cerebral small-vessel disease and stroke (OR 1.47; 95% CI 1.07–2.03; P = .019).


This study shows a significant independent association between the aortic PWV and poor sleep quality in older adults living in rural Ecuador. Results provide more insights into the relevance of the impact of sleep disorders on cardiovascular diseases.

Clinical Trial Registration:

The Atahualpa Project has been registered at The identifier number is NCT01627600, and the date was: 10/02/2012.


Del Brutto OH, Mera RM, Peñaherrera E, Costa AF, Peñaherrera R, Castillo PR. On the association between sleep quality and arterial stiffness: a population study in community-dwelling older adults living in rural ecuador (the atahualpa project). J Clin Sleep Med. 2019;15(8):1101–1106.

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