Knowledge and perception of cardiovascular disease risks of female university students

  • Tania Steyl

Abstract

Introduction

Cardiovascular disease (CVD), traditionally thought of as a "man's disease", is the leading cause of death and disability amongst women world-wide. Research demonstrates a lack of knowledge and perceived susceptibility amongst women, especially in the younger age group.

Aim:

To evaluate knowledge and perception of CVD risks of female university students.

Methods:

Four hundred and thirty eight students completed a structured, self-administered questionnaire including items regarding knowledge, risk perception and risky behaviour regarding CVD.

Results :

Overall, 56.8 % of the participants were knowledgeable (; 70% correct answers) of CVD risks, with a mere 6.6% indicating heart disease as the greatest health risk for women. The White population (40.2%) was identified as the race most susceptib le to CVD. A significant relationship between risk perception and being informed of the risk of developing CVD (p=.OOO) and having a family history of CVD (p=.OOO) was found.

Conclusion:

It is vital to our nation's health that young female  individuals are educated regarding the identification and modification of risk factors for CVD. As CVD risk factors may be managed through lifestyle modification, gender­ and ethnic-specific lifestyle modification programmes should be directed at altering personal behaviours.

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