White matter hyperintensities of presumed vascular origin: A population-based study in rural Ecuador (The Atahualpa Project)

Oscar H. Del Brutto, Robertino M. Mera, Victor J. Del Brutto, Mauricio Zambrano, Julio Lama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Cerebral small vessel disease is probably one of the most common pathogenetic mechanisms underlying stroke in Latin America. However, the importance of silent markers of small vessel disease, including white matter hyperintensities of presumed vascular origin, has not been assessed so far. Aim: The study aims to evaluate prevalence and correlates of white matter hyperintensities in community-dwelling elders living in Atahualpa (rural Ecuador). Methods: Atahualpa residents aged ≥60 years were identified during a door-to-door survey and invited to undergo brain magnetic resonance imaging for identification and grading white matter hyperintensities and other markers of small vessel disease. Using multivariate logistic regression models, we evaluated whether white matter hyperintensities is associated with demographics, cardiovascular health status, stroke, cerebral microbleeds, and cortical atrophy, after adjusting for the other variables. Results: Out of 258 enrolled persons (mean age, 70±8 years; 59% women), 172 (67%) had white matter hyperintensities, which were moderate to severe in 63. Analyses showed significant associations of white matter hyperintensities presence and severity with age and cardiovascular health status, as well as with overt and silent strokes, and a trend for association with cerebral microbleeds and cortical atrophy. Conclusions: Prevalence and correlates of white matter hyperintensities in elders living in rural Ecuador is almost comparable with that reported from industrialized nations, reinforcing the concept that the burden of small vessel disease is on the rise in underserved Latin American populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)372-375
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Stroke
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiovascular health status
  • Cerebral small vessel disease
  • Ecuador
  • Population-based study
  • Silent stroke
  • White matter hyperintensities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology


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