Original Research

Cardiovascular health risk among university students in South Africa

Peet du Toit, Elizabeth Rudolph, Yvonne Joubert, Nicoleen Coetzee, Ernst Krüger, Ronél Ferreira, Evangeline Nortje, William Fraser
Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap en Tegnologie | Vol 34, No 1 | a1178 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/satnt.v34i1.1178 | © 2015 Peet du Toit, Elizabeth Rudolph, Yvonne Joubert, Nicoleen Coetzee, Ernst Krüger, Ronél Ferreira, Evangeline Nortje, William Fraser | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 June 2014 | Published: 29 May 2015

About the author(s)

Peet du Toit, Department of Physiology, University of Pretoria, South Africa; Associate of the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Well-being, University of Pretoria, South Africa; Associate of the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Pretoria, South Africa; Associate of the Exercise Smart Team, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Elizabeth Rudolph, Department of Human Resource Management, University of South Africa, South Africa
Yvonne Joubert, Department of Human Resource Management, University of South Africa, South Africa
Nicoleen Coetzee, Department of Physiology, University of Pretoria, South Africa; Associate of the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Well-being, University of Pretoria, South Africa; Associate of the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Pretoria, South Africa;
Ernst Krüger, Associate of the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Well-being, University of Pretoria, South Africa; Department of Sport Research, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Ronél Ferreira, Associate of the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Well-being, University of Pretoria, South Africa; Department of Educational Psychology, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Evangeline Nortje, Department of Physiology, University of Pretoria, South Africa; Associate of the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Well-being, University of Pretoria, South Africa; Associate of the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Pretoria, South Africa;
William Fraser, Associate of the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Well-being, University of Pretoria, South Africa; Department of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Traditionally, individuals’ abilities, interests and personality were assessed during career guidance and recruitment and selection processes; however, only a few studies focused on the actual health of second-year students, as entry-level employees for business in South Africa. The main research purpose was to determine the cardiovascular health of second-year university students’ (as young entry-level employees). The motivations for the study are two-fold: to determine the current cardiovascular health risk of students, and to educate the students about such risk. The study was a quantitative cross-sectional study to determine university students’ cardiovascular health. The sample used in this research study consisted of 162 university students in South Africa, between the ages of 18 and 25 years. The results indicated that 55.6% students had high blood pressure. Then 81.1% of the latter group of students were identified as prehypertensive, while 18.9% were considered as having stage-1 hypertension. Students exhibited elevated cardiac stress as well. Altogether 64.8% of all the participating students scored in the elevated range of the Cardiac Stress Index (CSI). Unfortunately, 61% of the students with elevated CSI readings also exhibited high blood pressure. Furthermore, of the latter group, 15.2% exhibited poor heart rate variability, as well as elevated heart rate and blood pressure. Therefore, nearly 10% of the total sample exhibited elevated cardiac stress, an elevated heart rate and high blood pressure levels. The implications of the results are that university students are unaware of their cardiovascular health and that it may have an effect on their careers. Career counsellors, industrial psychologists, educational psychologists, and human resource management practitioners may benefit from this information in their scope of practice to guide physiology students in their career. This practical approach also allows physiology students to determine their own cardiovascular health risks.

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