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Guideline Approaches for Cardioendocrine Disease Surveillance and Treatment Following Spinal Cord Injury


Purpose of Review

Persons with spinal cord injuries (SCI) commonly experience individual risks and coalesced health hazards of the cardiometabolic syndrome (CMS). This review will examinethe role of exercise and nutritional intervention as countermeasures to these disease risks.

Recent Findings

The CMS hazards of overweight/obesity, insulin resistance, hypertension, and dyslipidemia are strongly associated with physical deconditioning and are common after SCI. Both the CMS diagnosis and physical deconditioning worsen the prognosis for all-cause cardiovascular disease occurring early after SCI. Evidence supports a therapeutic role for physical activity after SCI as an effective countermeasure to these risks and often represents the first-line approach to CMS abatement. This evidence is supported by authoritative systematic reviews and associated guidelines that recommend specific activities, frequencies, and activities of work. In many cases, the most effective exercise programming uses more intense periods of work with limited rest. As SCI is also associated with poor dietary habits, including excessive energy intake and saturated fat consumption, more comprehensive lifestyle management incorporating both exercise and nutrition represents a preferred approach for overall health management.


Irrespective of the interventional strategy, improved surveillance of the population for CMS risks and encouraged incorporation of exercise and nutritional management according to recent population-specific guidelines will most likely play an important role in the preservation of activity, optimal health, and independence throughout the lifespan.

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Correspondence to Mark S. Nash or James L. J. Bilzon.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation

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Nash, M.S., Bilzon, J.L.J. Guideline Approaches for Cardioendocrine Disease Surveillance and Treatment Following Spinal Cord Injury. Curr Phys Med Rehabil Rep 6, 264–276 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40141-018-0203-z

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  • Cardioendocrine disease
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Physical activity
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Bariatrics