Number One cause of death for those with SCI

DSCN2590Surprise!  It’s cardiovascular disease.

Those with SCI develop the disease at younger ages and at a greater frequency that the able bodied population.

The disease includes autonomic dysreflexia – the drastic increase in blood pressure of those with cervical and upper thoracic injuries.  If untreated it can lead to bleeding in the brain and/or death.

This unstable blood pressure control not only impacts the greater SCI population, but specifically is a worry for athletes with SCI.  Dr. Andrei Krassioukov, a lead researcher in the field led a major study during the 2010 Vancouver Paralympic games.  He says:

“With Paralympic athletes, we have two problems in this area.  One is those who don’t this is a risk and need crucial practical information.  The other is athletes who are aware of autonomic blood presure spikes and will actually attempt to use it as a competitive advantage, which is extremely risky.”

Different research organizations are increasing their study of cardiovascular disease in those with SCI.  Dr. Krassioukov is leading one such team of 20 scientists in Canada and the US.    He says:

“Twenty-years ago I applied for my first grant to study the effect of spinal cord injury on the cardiovascular system, but it was widely believed that people with SCI didn’t need to worry about cardiovascular disease, and the research community should focus on curing paralysis.  While that is still the end goal, we now know how severe and life threatening cardiovascular issues can be.  With this [new] grant we will study different types of exercise interventions as well as translating findings in such a way that we can educate health care providers on the specific cardiovascular problems that are associated with SCI.”

This article is excerpted from:

Photo:  Rock climbing wall at the Arizona Disability Empowerment Center – physical fitness center

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About Karen
Karen Koehler, partner at the nationally recognized law firm of SKW, blogs about all things related to spinal cord injuries...More
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Can I see a falling tear.
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