New research shows a strong correlation between sleep fragmentation, arteriolosclerosis, and subcortical infarcts in older adults, according to Neurology Advisor.

Sleep disruption and stroke are known to be associated, but the Rush study delved into the relationship between sleep and the histopathology of cerebrovascular disease. Its aim was to show that the more severe the sleep fragmentation, the higher the burden of cerebrovascular damage and infarct pathology at autopsy. The study authors hope that their findings and the research that ensues from it can ultimately provide greater insight into not only the pathology of stroke but also that of progressive cognitive and motor diseases.

The researchers sourced autopsy data from 315 participants from the Rush Memory and Aging Project, a community-based cohort study of aging in which participants permit the donation of their brain upon death. All participants underwent at least 1 actigraphic recording, with the protocol in the Rush Memory and Aging Project being biennial capture of 10 days of ambulatory actigraphy. Actigraphic data were analyzed using the metric kRA, which strongly correlates (P <.0001) with polysomnographic measures of sleep fragmentation (ie, arousal index and sleep efficiency). The number of macroscopic and microscopic infarcts present at brain autopsy also was assessed. Ordinal logistic regression models were used to correlate sleep fragmentation to the severity of arteriolosclerosis, atherosclerosis, and cerebral amyloid angiopathy.

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