Q. I’m 53 and in my 20th year as a T4 paraplegic. A few of my friends with spinal cord injuries have been dealing with cardiovascular disease, which has ranged from coronary artery disease requiring angioplasty and stent placement, and in some cases bypass surgery, to peripheral artery disease in the legs that has required surgery to bypass narrowed arteries.

Is there a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease in people with SCI? Are there specific risk factors and/or symptoms? Are there tests to check for this that I should ask my doctor for? What are the treatment options? Are there ways to lesson chances of developing this?  
—Joni

A. Let’s start by defining cardiovascular disease and peripheral artery disease. Both refer to a systemic condition, sometimes called