205748 An Assessment of University Students' Heart Health Behaviors

Monday, November 9, 2009

Suzanne M. Sneed, MS , Department of Health Education and Behavior, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
BACKGROUND: Heart disease is the leading cause of death among American adults. Behavior contributes to heart disease risk, and activities performed at a young age are often indicative of behavior that will be perpetuated into adulthood. Risk factors may begin in adolescence; therefore, prevention efforts are encouraged in young adults. Educating college aged students relative to behavioral risk factors and family history may be influential in helping young adults adopt more healthful behaviors.

METHODS: This pilot study utilized a convenient sample of university students (n=308). The students completed a questionnaire regarding knowledge and risk behaviors related to heart disease. Due to the nature and purpose of this study, only descriptive statistics were used.

RESULTS: Approximately 16.9% of students indicated they ate mostly high fat foods. A small percentage of students (24.0%) reported they engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity on average 3 days per week. A large percentage of students reported that their biological mother (73.6%) or biological father (61.4%) had heart problems. Eighty-three percent of students reported they had never smoked a cigarette. Abnormal blood pressure was self -reported by 7.8% of the sample and 40.6% of the sample had never had their cholesterol levels measured.

CONCLUSIONS: Health promotion efforts among the college population are important; students need to possess the ability to distinguish healthy behavior from unhealthy behavior in order to make positive behavioral changes. Early identification and modification of lifestyle behaviors that contribute to heart disease may help lessen the overall risk among the U.S. population.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify behaviors that place university students at risk for heart disease onset in their future. 2. Discuss future research directions that are needed in order to plan tailored behavioral interventions among the university population in order to reduce their lifetime risk of heart disease.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a PhD student studying heart disease risk behaviors present in the university population. The abstract submitted is part of a pilot study leading to my disseration work.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.