An exploratory study of cardiac health in college athletes

Appl Nurs Res. 2009 Nov;22(4):228-35. doi: 10.1016/j.apnr.2008.02.008. Epub 2009 Jan 15.


A common assumption is that college athletes are healthy based on their age and level of physical activity. This study used a descriptive correlational design to explore relationships and predictors of physical fitness levels among an ethnically diverse sample of 135 college athletes from a National College Athletic Association Division II university. Both subjective and objective indices of cardiac health and physical fitness level (blood pressure [BP], body mass index [BMI], waist-to-hip ratio, waist circumference, hip circumference, blood lipids, glucose, and VO(2max)) were collected. Minimal research exists with this population or with such an array of subjective and objective measures. More than one fourth of the athletes had a BMI in the overweight range, one fifth was prehypertensive, and one fourth had lower-than-recommended high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. Waist circumference accounted for 21% of the variance in systolic BP level. These factors may predispose the college athletes to cardiac risk in the future when exercise regimens are reduced. Gender differences were found in all physical size variables and in physical fitness levels, with physical fitness level alone predicting gender correctly 98.5% of the time. Differences support the need to account for gender and fitness levels in cardiac risk assessment of young populations.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sports*
  • Students*
  • Universities*