By David Douglas
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Aug 08 - Spinal cord injury (SCI) is associated with considerably increased odds of heart disease, according to Canadian researchers.
"SCI results in not only sensorimotor paralysis but also heightened cardiovascular risks. Our cross-sectional analyses of population data revealed a more than two-fold increased odds of heart disease and stroke among individuals with SCI," Jacquelyn J. Cragg of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver told Reuters Health by email.
As reported July 24th online in Neurology, Cragg and colleagues analyzed data from more than 60,000 people in the 2010 cycle of the cross-sectional Canadian Community Health Survey.
Of these, 354 met inclusion criteria for SCI and heart disease and 356 did so for SCI and stroke. The prevalence overall was 0.49%.
After adjusting for age and sex, SCI was associated with significant increased odds of heart disease (odds ratio, 2.72) and stroke (OR, 3.72).
The researchers couldn't tell, however, whether SCI preceded cardiovascular disease - and they didn't have access to neurologic and cardiovascular examination records.
Still, they say, the findings of increased risk are in line with those of other studies - which shows, Cragg said, "a need for targeted interventions and prevention strategies for heart disease and stroke among individuals with SCI."
Her co-author Dr. Andrei Krassioukov told Reuters Health by email, "At the present time, there are no established guidelines for the monitoring and diagnosing of heart disease among individuals with SCI, with the exception of a few recommendations."
"The issue of monitoring and early diagnosis of heart disease in this population is complicated by the lack of sensation in the heart and chest area, predisposing individuals with SCI to the asymptomatic development of ischemic heart disease," he pointed out. "Another complication is the lack of mobility and inability to perform standardized stress tests; the only possible way to diagnose the development of heart disease in these individuals is to conduct pharmacological MIBI nuclear stress tests."
Reuters Health Information © 2013