Acute Spinal Cord Injury Is Associated With Prevalent Cardiometabolic Risk Factors

Ryan Solinsky, Luisa Betancourt, Mary Schmidt-Read, Mendel Kupfer, Marilyn Owens, Jan M. Schwab, Nathaniel B. Dusseau, Yaga Szlachcic, Linda Sutherland, J. Andrew Taylor, Mark S. Nash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objectives: To (1) describe the prevalence of cardiometabolic disease (CMD) at spinal cord injury (SCI) rehabilitation discharge; (2) compare this with controls without SCI; and (3) identify factors associated with increased CMD. Design: Multicenter, prospective observational study. Setting: Five National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research Model SCI Rehabilitation Centers. Participants: SCI (n=95): patients aged 18-70 years, with SCI (neurologic levels of injury C2-L2, American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale grades A-D), and enrolled within 2 months of initial rehabilitation discharge. Control group (n=1609): age/sex/body mass index–matched entries in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Education Survey (2016-2019) (N=1704). Interventions: None Main Outcome Measures: Percentage of participants with SCI with CMD diagnosis, prevalence of CMD determinants within 2 months of rehabilitation discharge, and other significant early risk associations were analyzed using age, sex, body mass index, insulin resistance (IR) by fasting glucose and Homeostasis Model Assessment (v.2), fasting triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, total cholesterol, and resting blood pressure (systolic and diastolic). Results: Participants with SCI had significantly higher diastolic blood pressure and triglycerides than those without SCI, with lower fasting glucose and HDL-C. A total of 74.0% of participants with SCI vs 38.5% of those without SCI were obese when applying population-specific criteria (P<.05). Low HDL-C was measured in 54.2% of participants with SCI vs 15.4% of those without (P<.05). IR was not significantly different between groups. A total of 31.6% of participants with SCI had ≥3 CMD determinants, which was 40.7% higher than those without SCI (P<.05). Interplay of lipids and lipoproteins (ie, total cholesterol:HDL-C ratio and triglyceride:HDL-C ratio) were associated with elevated risk in participants with SCI for myocardial infarction and stroke. The only significant variable associated with CMD was age (P<.05). Conclusions: Individuals with SCI have an increased CMD risk compared with the general population; obesity, IR, and low HDL-C are the most common CMD risk determinants; age is significantly associated with early CMD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)696-701
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of physical medicine and rehabilitation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Rehabilitation
  • Risk factors
  • Spinal cord injuries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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