Heart Checks: A Profile of the College-Aged Population

Monday, 30 October 2017: 1:15 PM

Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk, PhD, RN, CPNP/PMHNP, FAANP, FNAP, FAAN
College of Nursing, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA

Purpose: Cardiovascular disease is the most common and costly of the chronic diseases; however, it is the most preventable. It is projected that by implementing simple preventive behavioral modifications, more than 100,000 cardiovascular related deaths per year could be prevented and the incidence of heart attack and stroke could be reduced by 80% (Frieden & Berwick, 2011; CDC, 2011; Patnode, Henderson, et al., 2015). Despite continued attempts to improve cardiovascular population health, it continues to be the number one killer of men and women worldwide. Methods: Heart Checks are large scale preventative screenings targeting young adults. Heart Checks are designed to promote population cardiovascular health by identifying early disease and behavioral risk factors before health problems, like hypertension and obesity, occur. Early identification of cardiovascular risk factors and disease through screenings, proactive lifestyle modification counseling, and referral to health care providers are all benefits to the younger population. Heart checks are completed by registered nurses and nursing students, who have nursing faculty oversight. Heart Checks include a body mass index calculation, a blood pressure, a heart rate, a total cholesterol, a HDL cholesterol, a non-HDL cholesterol, and individualized behavioral cardiovascular risk reduction counseling. Cholesterol screenings are only completed on participants who screen positive for one or several cardiovascular risk factors. Results: The total sample consisted of 539 college students. Eighty-one percent of the sample were female. Caucasians comprised the largest percentage of participants (66.0%), followed by Asian Americans (11.2%), Black/African Americans (7.7%), the Multiracial/other group (7.0%) India/Pakistan/Bangladesh (4.6%), Hispanic/Latino (3.3%) and American Indian (0.2%). Participants aged 18 to 22 years were the largest percentage of the participant sample (78.7%). Eight-two (82.6%) were undergraduate students, 7.8% were graduate students, 5.8% were doctoral students and 3.9% were not enrolled as a current student. Multiple health behaviors including time spent engaging in exercise, fruit/vegetable intake, sugary beverage intake, alcohol consumption, nicotine consumption, and number of hours slept at night were reported. Sixty-five (65.5%) of the sample had a normal body mass index. Twenty-four (24.3%) were overweight, 7.4% were obese, and 2.9% were underweight. The majority of the sample (83.3%) had a normal blood pressure. Fourteen percent were pre-hypertensive and only 2.7% were found to have stage I hypertension. Reported stress was high. Conclusions: This sample demonstrates a relatively healthy population. Heart Checks present a significant opportunity to educate a younger population on ways to maintain their cardiovascular health and practice cardioprotective measures to avoid developing cardiovascular risk factors through healthy lifestyle choices.