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Ibrahim, Mahnashi, Al-Shehri, Al-Dhaheri, Al-Zahrani, Al-Wadie, Aljabri, and Al-Shanketi: The prevalence of coronary heart risk factors among medical students at a teaching hospital

Introduction: Saudi Arabia is experiencing alarming rates of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Providing consistent data on the magnitude of CVD among the young population of Saudi Arabia will help in controlling the risk factors and avoiding their consequences.

Objective: To estimate the prevalence of risk factors of coronary heart disease (CHD) among medical students at King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Materials and methods: A cross-sectional study was performed during the academic year 2012–2013. Ethical considerations were followed and a multistage stratified random sampling was used to select 214 medical students in their fourth, fifth and sixth clinical years. Data were collected through interview questionnaires, measurements and laboratory investigations. SPSS (Statistical Product and Service Solutions) version 16 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA) was used for both descriptive and analytical statistics. CHD risk per cent in 30 years was calculated using the Framingham algorithm based on body mass index.

Results: The most common risk factors of CHD were daily intake of high-fat diet (73.4%), low physical activity (57.9%), overweight or obesity (31.2%) and daily consumption of fast food (13.1%). Hypercholesterolaemia (17.2%) and hypertension (9.3%) were also prevalent risk factors. Smoking prevalence was low (2.8%). Males had significantly higher mean scores for most CHD risk factors compared with females (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: A high prevalence of CHD risk factors prevailed in the current study, especially among males. Intervention programmes to raise the health awareness of adolescents about CHD risk factors and encouragement to adopt healthy dietary behaviour and promote physical exercise should be initiated.

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