Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, cardiovascular risk factors, health Behaviors, sex differences, young adults



  1. Davis, Erica RN, BSN, MS
  2. Higgins, Melinda K. PhD
  3. Wood, Kathryn A. RN, PhD, FAAN, FAHA
  4. Cimiotti, Jeannie PhD, RN, FAAN
  5. Gary, Rebecca A. RN, PhD, FAHA, FAAN
  6. Dunbar, Sandra B. RN, PhD, FAAN, FAHA, FPCNA


Background: Coronary artery disease (CAD) is increasing in young adults, and greater understanding of their cardiac risk factors is essential to ensure effective prevention. Given the sex differences in CAD observed in older adults, understanding sex differences in risk factors for this younger group of adults is important. Having insight of cardiac risk factors and sex differences in the young adult population is essential to creating personalized strategies for prevention in nursing care and in this age group.


Objectives: The aims of this study were to determine the differences in CAD risk factors for young adult men and women and examine which factors are related to CAD early in life, ultimately to guide approaches for CAD prevention in primary care.


Methods: In this secondary analysis, 125 017 community-dwelling young adults were evaluated for health behaviors considered as risk factors for CAD. The 2017 Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System database from the Center for Disease Control was utilized. This database contains questions asked of young adults that would help with risk management for chronic diseases like CAD. Young adults in this article were defined as being between 18 and 44 years of age.


Results: Men reported more cardiovascular risk factors than women and developed risk factors at an earlier age. Women had greater percentages of obesity and low activity levels. In this population, those with hypertension had the highest odds ratio for developing CAD.


Conclusions: Differences between men and women in CAD risk factors included lifestyle and other chronic conditions. Greater prevention efforts should focus on these differences in young men and women to reduce risk factors and prevent the development of CAD.