Heart Checks: Preventing Cardiovascular Disease in Young Adults

Monday, 30 October 2017: 1:35 PM

Kate E. Gawlik, DNP
College of Nursing, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA

Purpose: Despite continued attempts to improve cardiovascular population health, prevalence and incidence remain high. Risk factor profiles in young adulthood strongly predict long-term cardiovascular risk (Lloyd-Jones, Hong, et al, 2010). Early detection is critical to identify individuals at risk and to promote lifestyle changes before disease progression occurs. This presentation will detail an innovative way to screen and educate young adults on cardiovascular disease. Methods: Brief cardiovascular screenings and healthy lifestyle education sessions called Heart Checks are being conducted across a large university campus to target various populations for cardiovascular prevention efforts. Heart Checks are designed for the screening and education of college-aged students, with a particular emphasis on women. These mini cardiovascular screenings typically take 20-25 minutes and consist of an online survey, a body mass index calculation, a blood pressure, a heart rate, and individualized cardiovascular risk reduction counseling. In addition, high risk individuals receive a cholesterol screening. Cholesterol screenings are only completed on participants who screen positive for one or several of the following parameters: diabetes, obesity (BMI >30), hypertension, smoker, or family history of premature CAD. Heart Checks are typically conducted by nursing faculty and nursing students in 4-5 hour periods in locations determined to be of high traffic for the intended participant population. Heart Checks are used as a community health clinical site. The eight steps for conducting a Heart Check include: deciding location, determining and market to target population, developing intake survey, training personnel, ordering equipment, establishing triage protocol, determining logistics, and creating educational information. Results: Over four hundred college-aged students have participated in Heart Checks as of February 2017. Conclusions: Starting cardiovascular prevention earlier, more aggressively, and in targeted populations may be the key to lowering cardiovascular disease in later life and promoting cardiovascular population health. College campuses provide a unique opportunity to gain access to young adults and introduce healthy lifestyle behaviors before significant cardiovascular disease has occurred.