Perception and Beliefs Regarding Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Lifestyle Modifications among High-risk College Students

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Canadian Journal of Nursing Research

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Background: Studying risk factors and corresponding behavior in young adults is important as atherosclerotic plaque begins to form in early adulthood, resulting in cardiovascular disease (CVD) later in life. The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions and beliefs regarding cardiovascular risk and lifestyle modification among high-risk college students (based on Framingham 30-year risk score). Methods: Semistructured qualitative interviews were conducted and analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Results: Risk factors included overweight/obesity, alcohol consumption, elevated blood pressure, family history, and smoking. Qualitative interviews revealed six themes: (a) recognizing risk, (b) lifestyle trajectories, (c) factors influencing lifestyles, (d) ideal healthy lifestyle modifications, (e) perceived benefits of healthy lifestyles, and (f) integrating technology and health apps. Participants demonstrated a lack of understanding of how the various factors contributed to CV risk. Influencing factors to a healthy lifestyle were categorized as environmental, relational, financial, work/life/school balance, and internal/intrinsic motivation. Conclusions: Understanding high-risk college students’ beliefs and perceptions regarding CVD risk factors and lifestyle modification is the first step to assessing the problem facilitating early intervention in the young adult population. Clinicians should assess, develop, and implement risk reduction programs that are tailored to individuals who need it the most, those at high risk.


Mixed-method; Students; Lifestyle; Interviews; Risk reduction behavior; Cardiovascular; Qualitative study


Cardiovascular Diseases | Diseases | Medicine and Health Sciences



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