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Article Title

COMPARING CARDIOVASCULAR RISK FACTORS BETWEEN FIRST- AND FOURTH-YEAR UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS AT GONZAGA UNIVERSITY

Abstract

T. Tye, T. Ruesch, E. Harting, A. Ferrer, P.L. Crosswhite

Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of death in adults and represents a major health care expense in the United States. While CVD risk is well studied in adults, it remains largely unexplored in the young adult population. PURPOSE: To assess cardiovascular risk factors in first- and fourth-year undergraduate students. METHODS: From October to November of 2019, 45 first- and fourth-year undergraduate students were screened for various CVD risk factors including elevated body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage, blood pressure, plasma lipids, blood glucose, inactivity, smoking, alcohol consumption, and family history of diabetes and coronary disease. Participants’ total number of risk factors was compared between first- and fourth-year students. Mean differences between first- and fourth-year students for each risk factor were determined using independent t-tests. Trends between lifestyle habits and biometric data were analyzed using Pearson’s correlation. RESULTS: BMI was significantly greater in fourth-year students (23.9 ±

3.5 kg/m2) than first-year students (21.7 ± 3.0 kg/m2), p = 0.03. Fourth-year students had two-times more risk factors than first-year students (1.66 ± 1.46 risk factors, 0.88 ± 0.74 risk factors; p = 0.02, respectively). Fourth-year students (5.3 ± 1.8 drinks/week) drank significantly more alcohol per week than first-year students (2.0 ± 1.8 drinks/week), p < 0.01. CONCLUSION: The college environment can have a negative impact on the population studied due to exposure to different activities that may increase CVD risk. Young adults should be aware and understand how the choices today may affect their future cardiovascular health. Preliminary results of the current study support follow-up longitudinal studies regarding the changes of college students’ cardiovascular health from the beginning to end of undergraduate study.

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