BACKGROUND Traumatic spinal cord injuries (TSCI) are a neurological condition associated with reduced well-being, increased morbidity and reductions in life expectancy. Estimates of all-cause and cause-specific mortality can aid in identifying targets for prevention and management of contributors for premature mortality.
OBJECTIVES To compare all-cause and cause-specific rates of mortality to that of the Swiss general population; to identify differentials in risk of cause-specific mortality according to lesion characteristics.
METHODS All-cause and cause-specific standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) were calculated using data from the Swiss Spinal Cord Injury cohort study. Cause-specific subhazard ratios were estimated within a competing risk framework using flexible parametric survival models.
RESULTS Between 1990 and 2011, 2,492 persons sustained a TSCI, of which 379 died. Persons with TSCI had a mortality rate more than 2 times higher than that of the Swiss general population (SMR 2.32; 95% CI 2.10-2.56). Tetraplegic lesions were associated with an increased risk of mortality due to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, infections, and accidents. Cause-specific SMRs were notably elevated for SCI-related conditions such as urinary tract infections (UTIs) and septicemia.
CONCLUSIONS Elevated SMRs due to cardiovascular disease, UTIs and septicemia-related mortality suggest the need for innovation when managing associated secondary health conditions.