Adults with cerebral palsy at higher risk for adverse health conditions

Aug. 29 (UPI) — Adults with cerebral palsy have a 75 percent greater risk of developing non-communicable diseases than those without the condition, a new study says.

These adults also have 5.5 times the risk of suffering a stroke than people without the condition and nearly three times the chance of developing heart failure, according to findings published Thursday in Neurology.

Additionally, adults with the disorder have a 2.3 times greater chance of being stricken with heart disease, 2.2 times the risk for asthma and 1.6 times more likely for high blood pressure.

For at least a quarter of young adults with cerebral palsy, the ability to walk worsens over time. National Institutes of Health-funded research suggests this this leads to a sedentary lifestyle, posing added risk for cardiovascular problems.

“Until recently, we did not know much about the consequences of aging with cerebral palsy,” Jennifer Ryan, a researcher at Brunel University in London and study lead author, said in a press release. “Our findings highlight the need for further research into the management of non-communicable diseases in this population.”

The researchers made the findings with primary care data from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink, contrasting health data on 1,700 adults with cerebral palsy with 5,000 adults without the condition.

Making orthopedic surgeons, neurologists and psysiotherapists available to adults with cerebral palsy physical decline, the researchers say, could possibly prevent the development of poor cardiovascular outcomes.

“Our results clearly emphasize the importance of reframing how cerebral palsy is traditionally viewed; to recognize that it is not simply a condition of childhood,” said Neil O’Connell, a researcher at Brunel University London and study co-author. “Health services should be designed and delivered with the aim of supporting people with cerebral palsy to be healthy and active throughout their lives.”

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