Original research| Volume 96, ISSUE 4, P673-679, April 2015

Lifetime Prevalence of Chronic Health Conditions Among Persons With Spinal Cord Injury

Published:December 09, 2014DOI:



      To assess lifetime prevalence of 7 chronic health conditions (CHCs) among a cohort of adults with chronic traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI).




      Rehabilitation hospital.


      Adults with SCI who were ≥18 years of age, were ≥1 year postinjury, and had residual neurologic effects impeding full recovery (n=1678).


      Not applicable.

      Main Outcome Measures

      CHCs were measured using questions from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System for diabetes (not including gestational), heart attack (also called a myocardial infarction), angina or coronary artery disease, stroke, hypertension (not including during pregnancy), high blood cholesterol, or cancer.


      Of participants, 49.5% reported having at least 1 CHC, with 23.2% reporting ≥2 CHCs. The most frequently reported CHC was high cholesterol (29.3%) followed by hypertension (28.7%) and diabetes (11.8%). Although the prevalence of CHCs significantly increased with increasing age, only hypertension and cancer were significantly associated with years postinjury. Four CHCs (diabetes, coronary artery disease, hypertension, high cholesterol) were significantly related to mobility status as measured by injury level and ambulatory status. However, after controlling for age, years postinjury, sex, and race, mobility status became nonsignificant in relation to coronary artery disease, but it remained significantly associated with diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol.


      Clinicians should be aware of the risk of CHCs in persons with SCI and should screen for these conditions and regular maintenance activities related to SCI.


      List of abbreviations:

      BRFSS (Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System), CHC (chronic health condition), CVD (cardiovascular disease), MCC (multiple chronic conditions), SCI (spinal cord injury)
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