Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Nursing (BSN)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Marie Graf


Each year, one in every four deaths in the United States is a result of heart disease. As the leading cause of death among women and men from various ethnicities, heart disease may be overlooked when making everyday life decisions. As a group of genetic and behavioral conditions, heart disease is the number one killer of Americans. This may be due to the typical Western diet and daily life choices such as drinking alcohol or smoking tobacco. Heart diseases including atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease kill ten times more women than breast cancer (Lewis, et al., 2017). White men have the highest incidence (p. 704) while American Indian or Alaskan native women have the lowest rates of heart disease compared to the nation’s population in 2017 (National Vital Statistics report, Heron, M. 2017). These statistics demonstrate that preventing heart disease needs to be a vital consideration among Americans even at a young age.

The purpose of the present study was to compare relevant factors that influence heart health in undergraduate students at a rural university system within the southeastern United States. Results showed that many students fall short in healthy eating and exercise patterns. In turn, popular lifestyle habits may contribute to the development of heart disease.

Thesis Summary

What kinds of choices do undergraduate students make in regards to their diet, exercise, and social habits? How do these habits influence their heart health?