Patients with spinal cord injuries were at a nearly threefold risk for cardiovascular disease, researchers found.

A Canadian health survey showed 2.72-fold adjusted increased odds for heart disease among patients with spinal cord injury (95 percent CI 1.94-3.82), according to Jacquelyn Cragg, MPH, of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and colleagues.

Risks for stroke were nearly four time higher among those with spinal cord injury, at an adjusted odds ratio of 3.72 (95 percent CI 2.22-6.23), they wrote in the August issue of the journal Neurology.

The authors noted that with advances in treatment of potentially fatal conditions associated with spinal cord injury, such as septicemia, renal failure, and pneumonia, cardiovascular risks have taken over as the leading cause of mortality among patients with injured spines.

They added that spine injury can amplify certain cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as physical inactivity, dyslipidemia, blood pressure irregularities, chronic inflammation, and abnormal glycemic control.

Prior research has found significant associations between traumatic brain injury and increased risk of ischemic stroke.

And according to a report by the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, hypertensive disorders and the resulting ischemic heart disease constitute the third leading cause of mortality in patients with spinal cord injuries.

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