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Revista Costarricense de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 1409-1429


CARPIO RIVERA, Elizabeth et al. The association between cardiovascular risk factors and resting blood pressure in college students. Rev. costarric. salud pública [online]. 2016, vol.25, n.1, pp.47-58. ISSN 1409-1429.


The study was designed to determine the association between selected cardiovascular risk factors and resting blood pressure in Costa Rican college students.


Volunteers were 269 students (138 males and 131 females; mean age = 19,1 ± 2,8 yrs.), who completed questionnaires on demographics, family history of hypertension, alcohol intake, quantity of weekly liquor drinks, smoking habits, number of daily cigarettes smoked, physical activity (METs/week), and the general health status. In addition, measurements were obtained on resting systolic (SBP) and diastolic (DBP) blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), percent body fat (% body fat) determined by full-body Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DEXA, Lunar Prodigy, General Electric, Madison, WI), and maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max). Multiple regression analysis was used to assess the relationships between the 12 predictor variables using a general lineal model, with both, systolic (SBP) and diastolic (DBP) blood pressure as dependent variables.


The predictor variables entered in the model explained 28,3% (R2model = 0,283) of the variance of SBP values and 15,8% (R2model = 0,158) of the variance in DBP values. Gender (p = 0,02) and BMI (p = 0,001) were significant predictors of SBP, and BMI (p = 0,004) was a significant predictor of DBP. The mean SBP adjusted for the number of daily cigarettes smoked, quantity of weekly liquor drinks, BMI, WHR, % body fat, VO2max and METs/week was 15,8 mm Hg higher in males compared to females (p = 0,02). For every increment of 1 kg/m2 in BMI, both, SBP and DBP increased by 2,5 and 1,5 mm Hg, respectively.


The modifiable risk factor BMI was associated to changes in both, SBP and DBP, in Costa Rican college students. Serious efforts should be made to achieve a healthy body weight in a population at high risk for hypertension.

Keywords : blood pressure; Hispanics; college students; cardiovascular risk factors.

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