Exploring daily blood pressure fluctuations and cardiovascular risk among individuals with motor complete spinal cord injury: a pilot study Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Clinically silent autonomic dysfunction with bowel and bladder care, are postulated to contribute to cardiovascular disease after chronic spinal cord injury (SCI). OBJECTIVE: We describe the frequency and severity of dysreflexic episodes, termed transient blood pressure elevations (T-BPE) over 48 hours in adults with cervical or high-thoracic motor-complete SCI. SETTING: Tertiary SCI Rehabilitation Centre in Toronto, Canada. PARTICIPANTS: Individuals with chronic SCI, C1-T3 AIS A or B, >1 year post-injury, living in the community (n=19). OUTCOME MEASURES: Data were obtained via 48-hour ambulatory blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR) monitoring, with data captured at 10-minute intervals and a concurrent diary describing activities of daily living, and bladder/bowel routines. T-BPE were defined as a ≥ 40 mmHg elevation in systolic blood pressure (SBP) above the participant's supine baseline. Severe (≥ 60-79 mmHg) and Extreme ≥80 mmHg elevations in SBP were described. RESULTS: Thirteen participants experienced T-BPE within the assessment period, with 7/13 experiencing "severe", and 3/13 experiencing "extreme" SBP elevations. The median number of T-BPE was 8 (IQR = 3), and the mean ± SD SBP during T-BPE was 150 ± 16 mmHg, These T-BPE were verified as dysreflexic events using a conservative definition of a >40 mmHg increase in SBP, with a concurrent 10 bpm decrease in HR, above the 48-hour average SBP, yielding 12/19 participants with T-BPE. CONCLUSIONS: T-BPE were frequent, often with severe or extreme elevations in SBP, despite few reported symptoms. Recognition and management of these dysreflexic events associated with T-BPE are needed, which may ameliorate cardiovascular disease risk.


  • Dance, Derry L
  • Chopra, Amit
  • Campbell, Kent
  • Ditor, David
  • Hassouna, Magdy
  • Craven, B Catharine

publication date

  • July 4, 2017