Cardiovascular disease risk in patients with spinal cord injury before and after exercise rehabilitation

Eighty percent of spinal cord injuries happen to people under 30 years of age. Medical advances have increased life expectancy for these individuals, and consequently, they are susceptible to the same chronic conditions as able-bodied persons. However, people with spinal cord injuries have a much higher risk for cardiovascular disease. About 25 percent of the general population has a form of cardiovascular disease, but 60 to 70 percent of people with spinal cord injuries have a form of the disease. Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and people with spinal cord injury are often inactive and have poor cardiovascular fitness. Dominik Zbogar is investigating whether an arm cycling training program could improve aerobic fitness, heart function, muscle function, vascular (blood vessel) health, and psychological well-being in people with spinal cord injuries. This research could clarify the importance of exercise rehabilitation to overall health and quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries, and contribute to prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease.