Risk factors for cardiovascular disease in U.S. medical students: the Preventive Cardiology Academic Award Collaborative Data Project

Am J Prev Med. 1990;6(2 Suppl):14-22.


Risk factors for cardiovascular disease are commonly obtained in freshman medical students for the purpose of increasing interest and awareness in preventive cardiology. What would be a normal range of values for this select group? This paper describes the major cardiovascular risk factors for 3,811 male and female freshman medical students from eight U.S. medical schools that were obtained in a standardized fashion as part of the Preventive Cardiology Academic Award (PCAA) programs at these institutions. The distributions of height, weight, Quetelet index, systolic and diastolic blood pressures, total cholesterol, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and calculated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol are presented for male and female medical students stratified by race into white, black, Asian, and Hispanic groups. The sex and race distributions of cardiovascular risk factors such as previously diagnosed hypertension, diabetes mellitus, smoking, lack of regular exercise (three times a week or more), oral contraceptive use in women, and family history of coronary heart disease are presented. The cardiovascular risk of freshman medical students is compared to other epidemiologic studies of young adults. The use and limitations of these race- and sex-specific data on cardiovascular risk, including physiologic measurements, are discussed in the context of educational programs for medical students and house staff in preventive cardiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Cardiology / education
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology
  • Coronary Disease / prevention & control
  • Data Collection
  • Epidemiologic Factors
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
  • Primary Prevention / education
  • Racial Groups
  • Reference Values
  • Risk Factors
  • Schools, Medical
  • Sex Factors
  • Students, Medical*
  • Teaching / methods
  • United States