Family History and Cardiovascular Disease Risk in At-Risk Young Adults: A Pilot Intervention Study

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Family History and Cardiovascular Disease Risk in At-Risk Young Adults: A Pilot Intervention Study

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Title: Family History and Cardiovascular Disease Risk in At-Risk Young Adults: A Pilot Intervention Study
Author: Imes, Christopher Charles
Abstract: Approximately 82 million Americans have one or more types of cardiovascular disease (CVD). In 2008, 811,940 deaths were caused by CVD, accounting for 32.8% of all deaths in the United States. There are two types of risk factors for CVD: non-modifiable and modifiable. Health-promoting behaviors aimed at the modifiable risk factors can prevent or reduce CVD. Through exercise, proper diet, and smoking cessation, an individual can decrease their risk for developing CVD. Family history is an independent risk factor for CVD and has the potential to become a screening tool to identify people at increased risk. The purpose of this pilot feasibility study was to examine the short-term impact of a theoretically driven, educational intervention on perceived CVD risk and behavioral intention to change health-related behavior to reduce CVD risk in asymptomatic young adults with a known family history of CVD. The intervention incorporated each young adult's family medical history; utilized a three-generation pedigree to illustrate participants' inherited risk; and delivered personalized CVD risk information based on family history and CVD biomarkers. The intervention was evaluated within a single group, pre-test post-test design. Quantitative data were examined using non-parametric statistics and the qualitative data was examined using thematic content analysis. Genetic testing was performed on blood samples from the participants to look for genetic variants associated with an elevated risk for coronary heart disease. These results were examined using the Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium principal and the relationship between the susceptibility alleles and lab results was examined. The study was feasible and the intervention significantly increased study participants' perceived lifetime CVD risk, heart disease knowledge, and behavioral intention to engage in CVD risk-reducing behavior. There were no significant differences in the frequency of susceptibility alleles in the study sample compared to a general population. Future testing of the intervention is warranted within a larger sample involving a more diverse population with a greater number of CVD risk factors. Further exploration on the use of genetic testing to predict at-risk individuals is recommended.
Description: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Washington, 2012
Author requested restriction: Restrict to UW for 6 months -- then make Open Access

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