Date Approved

2016

Date Posted

12-12-2016

Degree Type

Campus Only Senior Honors Thesis

Department

Nursing

First Advisor

Sherry Bumpus

Abstract

Background: Nursing students may unknowingly be at risk for developing hypertension during their studies. A leading cause of CVD is high blood pressure (HBP). Though there is longstanding knowledge that stress, diet, and lifestyle choices all effect blood pressure, the majority of research on HBP is conducted on middle and older age populations.

Research Questions: We sought to assess the prevalence of HBP in EMU undergraduate nursing students, assess perceived stress among EMU undergraduate nursing students, and to assess potential hypertension-related health risks of EMU undergraduate nursing students.

Methods: Subjects who wished to participate had their blood pressure taken with an automated cuff, and completed an online survey. The survey included basic demographics, as well as variables to complete the American Heart Association High Blood Pressure Risk Calculator, and the Perceived Risk Scale.

Results: Of 342 eligible undergraduate nursing students, 91 participated in the survey (26.6%). Most students were normotensive, however, around 40% of participants had blood pressures above the normal limits. On average, nursing students risk of having a heart attack was 1.9±1.9 times that of the normal population, and 2.8±4.4 the risk for having a stroke. Average risk for both was projected to decrease if students pursued the lifestyle changes they agreed to in the survey. Participants had an average Perceived Stress Scale score of 19.2 ±6.3 (range 0-40, > 20 suggested severe stress).

Conclusion: We found that while on average students were normotensive, a high percentage of students were at risk or had HBP and further that students perceived stress level was also high. More research is needed to fully understand this phenomenon and to develop interventions to reduce potential long-term complications.

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