Study design:Retrospective.Objectives:To determine the predictors of mortality in veterans with traumatic spinal cord injury (tSCI).Setting:Tertiary clinic in the state of Oklahoma.Methods:One hundred and forty-seven patients with tSCI who were enrolled in our Spinal Cord Injury program from 1 January 2000 to 31 December 2011 were retrospectively studied. The study sample was divided into two groups, based on the survival status by 31 December 2011.Results:In this sample of 147 patients with tSCI, survival at the end of the 12-year study period was 60%. There were three major causes of death: infection-related, such as pneumonia (21%), urinary infection (14%), and infection of the pressure ulcers (11%); cardiovascular-related, such as congestive heart failure (16%), coronary arterial disease (13%), and atrial fibrillation (2%); and cancer-related (16%). In veterans with complete SCI, deaths were mainly infection-related and occurred in the hospital (51%), while deaths in veterans with incomplete SCI were primarily cardiovascular and cancer-related and occurred in the community. A Cox regression analysis showed the age at the time of injury to be the main predictor of SCI-related mortality.Conclusion:This study suggests that an older age at the time of injury is a significant predictor of mortality following tSCI with patients more likely to die from cardiovascular deaths than the general population. These findings support the need for preventative strategies, including a focus on cardiovascular risk factor management, in order to decrease long-term mortality. © 2013 International Spinal Cord Society All rights reserved.
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