Cardiometabolic Syndrome in People With Spinal Cord Injury/Disease: Guideline-Derived and Nonguideline Risk Components in a Pooled Sample

Mark S Nash, Rochelle E. Tractenberg, Armando J Mendez, Maya David, Inger H. Ljungberg, Emily A. Tinsley, Patricia A. Burns-Drecq, Luisa F. Betancourt, Suzanne L. Groah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To assess cardiometabolic syndrome (CMS) risk definitions in spinal cord injury/disease (SCI/D).

DESIGN: Cross-sectional analysis of a pooled sample.

SETTING: Two SCI/D academic medical and rehabilitation centers.

PARTICIPANTS: Baseline data from subjects in 7 clinical studies were pooled; not all variables were collected in all studies; therefore, participant numbers varied from 119 to 389. The pooled sample included men (79%) and women (21%) with SCI/D >1 year at spinal cord levels spanning C3-T2 (American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale [AIS] grades A-D).

INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: We computed the prevalence of CMS using the American Heart Association/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute guideline (CMS diagnosis as sum of risks ≥3 method) for the following risk components: overweight/obesity, insulin resistance, hypertension, and dyslipidemia. We compared this prevalence with the risk calculated from 2 routinely used nonguideline CMS risk assessments: (1) key cut scores identifying insulin resistance derived from the homeostatic model 2 (HOMA2) method or quantitative insulin sensitivity check index (QUICKI), and (2) a cardioendocrine risk ratio based on an inflammation (C-reactive protein [CRP])-adjusted total cholesterol/high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio.

RESULTS: After adjustment for multiple comparisons, injury level and AIS grade were unrelated to CMS or risk factors. Of the participants, 13% and 32.1% had CMS when using the sum of risks or HOMA2/QUICKI model, respectively. Overweight/obesity and (pre)hypertension were highly prevalent (83% and 62.1%, respectively), with risk for overweight/obesity being significantly associated with CMS diagnosis (sum of risks, χ(2)=10.105; adjusted P=.008). Insulin resistance was significantly associated with CMS when using the HOMA2/QUICKI model (χ(2)2=21.23, adjusted P<.001). Of the subjects, 76.4% were at moderate to high risk from elevated CRP, which was significantly associated with CMS determination (both methods; sum of risks, χ(2)2=10.198; adjusted P=.048 and HOMA2/QUICKI, χ(2)2=10.532; adjusted P=.04).

CONCLUSIONS: As expected, guideline-derived CMS risk factors were prevalent in individuals with SCI/D. Overweight/obesity, hypertension, and elevated CRP were common in SCI/D and, because they may compound risks associated with CMS, should be considered population-specific risk determinants. Heightened surveillance for risk, and adoption of healthy living recommendations specifically directed toward weight reduction, hypertension management, and inflammation control, should be incorporated as a priority for disease prevention and management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1696-1705
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Diabetes mellitus, type 2
  • Endocrine system diseases
  • Obesity, abdominal
  • Rehabilitation
  • Spinal cord injuries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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