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Controlling Blood Pressure Protects Cognitive Health after Spinal Cord Injury

By January 16, 2019No Comments

When people think of spinal cord injury (SCI) they tend to focus on paralysis and body movement. But post-injury, the biggest health risk is actually cardiovascular disease— it’s the number one cause of disability and death in people with SCI. Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute scientists at ICORD (The International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries) are focusing on cardiovascular problems in SCI patients, in particular their inability to regulate blood pressure (BP). They’re especially interested in how BP dysregulation is linked to cognitive impairment. It’s an important focus: in a recent review study in Neurology magazine, Dr. Andrei Krassioukov and colleague Dr. Rahul Sachdeva found up to 60 per cent of people with SCI demonstrate some degree of cognitive impairment.

The average age for SCI is 29 years old. With improvement in care, patients are now living much longer so quality-of-life research has become more valuable. Sachdeva says cognitive ability should be a big part of that focus. “We want to highlight cognitive health because it is really what defines who we are personality wise. If you’re not cognitively well, it impacts your own wellbeing and affects everyone around you.”