Context: Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of mortality in individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI), highlighting the need for targeted risk minimization interventions.
Objective: To determine the effect of dietary interventions on CVD risk in adults with SCI.
Methods: A systematic literature review of studies investigating the impact of dietary intervention on CVD risk in SCI individuals was conducted according to the PRISMA statement. CASP checklists were used for critical appraisal, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Quality criteria checklist (QCC) for determining risk of bias and the GRADE approach to ascertain the quality of evidence of the outcomes. The results were reported descriptively.
Results: A total of eight studies were included from the identified 862 articles. Dietary intervention strategies varied across all studies, as did the outcome measures. Adult learning theories were not considered. The lack of controlled trials (two only) meant that while some interventions proved useful, risk of bias was high. Outcome measures were assessed as low to very low quality again identifying that this area is highly underresearched.
Conclusion: Despite documented evidence of the benefits of diet on CVD risk reduction, this review has identified a dearth of research in SCI. Nonetheless, the review emphasizes the potential of diet in conjunction with exercise in minimizing CVD risk in SCI. Further good quality research backed by robust data collection, simple, actionable strategies and knowledge translation techniques are essential to ascertain the effects of dietary intervention in lowering CVD risk in SCI.