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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 27  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 132-140

Carotid artery stiffness and development of hypertension in people with paraplegia and no overt cardiovascular disease: A 7-year follow-up study

1 Department of Cardiology and Emergency, San Antonio Hospital, San Daniele Del Friuli, Udine, Italy
2 Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, IMFR, Udine, Italy
3 Heart Department, Division of Cardiology, “Cava de' Tirreni and Amalfi Coast” Hospital, University of Salerno, Italy
4 Cardiologia Riabilitativa, Ospedale Riabilitativo di Alta Specializzazione, Motta di Livenza (TV), Italy

Correspondence Address:
Olga Vriz
Department of Cardiology and Emergency, San Antonio Hospital, Via Trento-Trieste 33, 33038 San Daniele del Friuli
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jcecho.jcecho_43_17

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Objectives: The aim of this study was to compare arterial stiffness between people with paraplegia and able-bodied persons (ABPs) and to assess cardiovascular markers that may be predictive of the development of arterial hypertension in people with spinal cord injury (SCI). Setting: This study was conducted at rehabilitation Hospital, Udine (Italy). Methods: Fifty-seven patients with SCI were prospectively enrolled and compared with 88 healthy ABPs. All patients underwent comprehensive transthoracic echocardiography, and one-point left common carotid artery (CCA) color-Doppler study for arterial stiffness. Results: Patients with SCI had significantly lower body mass index (BMI) and diastolic blood pressure (BP) compared with ABPs, and significantly higher carotid stiffness values (and lower arterial compliance) (P < 0.05) after adjustment for age, sex, BMI, physical activity, and heart rate. The SCI patients had lower values of the right ventricular function parameters (tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion and right Sm; P < 0.0001), increased wall thickness, and impaired diastolic function. At 7-year follow-up, 10.5% of SCI patients showed high BP; they were significantly heavier with a tendency toward increased abdominal obesity after adjustment for age and systolic BP. BMI was found to be an independent predictor of the development of hypertension. Conclusions: Patients with posttraumatic chronic SCI and no overt cardiovascular disease exhibit higher CCA stiffness along with the left and right ventricular involvement, compared with ABPs. People with paraplegia who develop arterial hypertension show increased CCA stiffness mediated by obesity. Lifestyle modifications and weight control should be promoted in all patients with SCI, even at a very early stage.

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