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Awareness of Cardiovascular Risk Factors in U.S. Young Adults Aged 18–39 Years

Published:February 09, 2018DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2018.01.022

      Introduction

      Young adults with hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and diabetes are at increased risk of developing heart disease later in life. Despite emphasis on early screening, little is known about awareness of these risk factors in young adulthood.

      Methods

      Data from the nationally representative cross-sectional National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2011–2014 were analyzed in 2017 to estimate the prevalence of self-reported awareness of hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, and diabetes in U.S. young adults aged 18–39 years (n=11,083). Prevalence estimates were weighted to population estimates using survey procedures, and predictors of awareness were identified using weighted logistic regression.

      Results

      Among U.S. young adults, the prevalence of hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, and diabetes was 8.8% (SE=0.4%); 7.3% (SE=0.3%); and 2.6% (SE=0.2%), respectively. The prevalence of borderline high cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood glucose were substantially higher (21.6% [SE= 0.6%]; 26.9% [SE=0.7%]; and 18.9% [SE=0.6%], respectively). Awareness was low for hypercholesterolemia (56.9% [SE=2.4%]) and moderate for hypertension and diabetes (62.7% [SE=2.4%] and 70.0% [SE=2.7%]); <25% of young adults with borderline levels of these risk factors were aware of their risk. Correlates of risk factor awareness included older age, insurance status, family income above the poverty line, U.S. origin, having a usual source of health care, and the presence of comorbid conditions.

      Conclusions

      Despite the high prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors in U.S. young adults, awareness remains less than ideal. Interventions that target access may increase awareness and facilitate achieving treatment goals in young adults.
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