Study design: A multicenter prospective cohort study.
Objective: To determine the longitudinal relationship between physical capacity and lipid profile in persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) during and 1 year after rehabilitation.
Setting: Eight Dutch rehabilitation centers with a specialized SCI unit.
Methods: A total of 206 subjects with SCI (78 with tetraplegia) participated. The longitudinal relationship between lipid profiles (total cholesterol (TC), high- (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and triglycerides (TG) and physical capacity (peak power output (POpeak), peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak), and muscle strength) was investigated during inpatient SCI rehabilitation (start, 3 months later, discharge) and 1 year after discharge. A correction was made for the possible confounding variables age, body mass index, gender, time since injury, lesion level and completeness.
Results: HDL and the ratios LDL/HDL and TC/HDL showed a significant and favorable relationship with VO2peak, POpeak and muscle strength. TG was positively related to POpeak and muscle strength.
Conclusions: More favorable lipid profiles were seen in people with a higher physical capacity after correction for personal and lesion characteristics. Therefore, improving the physical capacity by being active during daily life or in sport may further improve the lipid profile and thus reduce the risk for coronary heart disease.