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J Spinal Cord Med. 2014 Nov;37(6):782-5. doi: 10.1179/2045772314Y.0000000232. Epub 2014 Jun 29.

Physical exercise improves arterial stiffness after spinal cord injury.

Abstract

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.

KEYWORDS:

Cardiovascular diseases; Exercise; Pulse wave analysis; Spinal cord injuries; Vascular stiffness

PMID:
24976366
PMCID:
PMC4231967
DOI:
10.1179/2045772314Y.0000000232
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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