Physical exercise improves arterial stiffness after spinal cord injury.


OBJECTIVE/BACKGROUND Aortic pulse wave velocity (PWV), the gold-standard assessment of central arterial stiffness, has prognostic value for cardiovascular disease risk in able-bodied individuals. The aim of this study was to compare aortic PWV in athletes and non-athletes with spinal cord injury (SCI). DESIGN Cross-sectional comparison. METHODS Aortic PWV was assessed in 20 individuals with motor-complete, chronic SCI (C2-T5; 18 ± 8 years post-injury) using applanation tonometry at the carotid and femoral arterial sites. Ten elite hand-cyclists were matched for sex to 10 non-athletes; age and time since injury were comparable between the groups. Heart rate and discrete brachial blood pressure measurements were collected throughout testing. OUTCOME MEASURES Aortic PWV, blood pressure, heart rate. RESULTS Aortic PWV was significantly lower in athletes vs. non-athletes (6.9 ± 1.0 vs. 8.7 ± 2.5 m/second, P = 0.044). There were no significant between-group differences in resting supine mean arterial blood pressure (91 ± 19 vs. 81 ± 10 mmHg) and heart rate (60 ± 10 vs. 58 ± 6 b.p.m.). CONCLUSION Athletes with SCI exhibited improved central arterial stiffness compared to non-athletes, which is in agreement with the previous able-bodied literature. This finding implies that chronic exercise training may improve arterial health and potentially lower cardiovascular disease risk in the SCI population.

DOI: 10.1179/2045772314Y.0000000232

Cite this paper

@article{Hubli2014PhysicalEI, title={Physical exercise improves arterial stiffness after spinal cord injury.}, author={Mich{\'e}le Hubli and Katharine Dianne Currie and Christopher R. West and Cameron M Gee and Andrei V Krassioukov}, journal={The journal of spinal cord medicine}, year={2014}, volume={37 6}, pages={782-5} }