Evaluation of cardiovascular disease risk in individuals with chronic spinal cord injury

Matthew C. Dorton, V-E M. Lucci, Sonja de Groot, Thomas M. Loughin, Jacquelyn J. Cragg, John K. Kramer, Marcel W. M. Post, Victoria E. Claydon*

*Corresponding author for this work

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Study design Multicentre, cross-sectional study. Objectives To identify which markers of obesity, injury characteristics and autonomic function variables are related to cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk after spinal cord injury (SCI), and establish cut-points for detection and risk management. Setting Eight SCI rehabilitation centres in the Netherlands. Methods Individuals (n = 257) with a traumatic, chronic (>= 10 years) SCI, with age at injury between 18 and 35 years, completed a self-report questionnaire and a one-day visit to a rehabilitation centre for testing. Three anthropometric measures were tested: body mass index (BMI); waist circumference (WC); and waist-to-height ratio (WHtR). Injury characteristics included: American Spinal Injury Association impairment scale (AIS); duration of injury (DOI); and neurological level of injury (LOI). Cardiovascular autonomic function was assessed from peak heart rate during maximal exercise (HRpeak). Systolic arterial pressure (SAP) and aerobic capacity (VO2peak) were also determined. CVD risk was calculated using the Framingham risk score (FRS). Results All anthropometric variables were associated with FRS, with WC showing the strongest correlation (r = 0.41,p <0.001) and greatest area under the curve (0.73) for 10-year CVD risk (%). WC, DOI, SAP, HRpeak, LOI, and VO2peak(variable importance: 0.81, 1.0, 0.98, 0.98, 0.66, 0.68, respectively) were important predictive variables for 10-year CVD risk in individuals with SCI. Conclusions We confirm that WC is a simple, practical measure of CVD risk, and along with DOI and markers of cardiovascular autonomic function, plays a role in the increased CVD risk following SCI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalSpinal Cord
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - 17-Oct-2020



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