Spinal Cord Injury Tied to Greater Risk for Heart Disease


  • Researchers analyzed data from Korea's National Health Insurance Service on 5083 patients with cervical, thoracic, or lumbar SCI (mean age, 58; 75% men) and 1:3 age- and sex-matched non-SCI controls.
  • The study endpoint was new-onset myocardial infarction (MI), heart failure (HF), or atrial fibrillation (AF) during a mean follow-up of 4.3 years.
  • Covariates included low income, living in an urban or rural area, alcohol consumption, smoking status, physical activity engagement, body mass index, and blood pressure; comorbidities included hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and dyslipidemia.


  • A total of 169 MI events (7.3 per 1000 person-years), 426 HF events (18.8 per 1000 person-years), and 158 AF events (6.8 per 1000 person-years) occurred among SCI survivors.
  • After adjustment, SCI survivors had a higher risk for MI (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 2.41), HF (aHR, 2.24), and AF (aHR, 1.84) than controls.
  • Among SCI survivors with a disability, the risks increased with disability severity, and those with severe disability had the highest risks for MI (aHR, 3.74), HF (aHR, 3.96), and AF (aHR, 3.32).
  • Cervical and lumbar SCI survivors had an increased risk for heart disease compared with controls regardless of disability, and the risk was slightly higher for those with a disability; for cervical SCI survivors with a disability, aHRs for MI, HF, and AF, respectively, were 2.30, 2.05, and 1.73; for lumbar SCI survivors with a disability, aHRs were 2.79, 2.35, and 2.47.
  • Thoracic SCI survivors with disability had a higher risk for MI (aHR, 5.62) and HF (aHR, 3.31) than controls.