Cardiovascular disease (CVD), traditionally thought of as a "man's disease", is the leading cause of death and
disability amongst women world-wide. Research demonstrates a lack of knowledge and perceived susceptibility
amongst women, especially in the younger age group.
To evaluate knowledge and perception of CVD risks of female university students.
Four hundred and thirty eight students completed a structured, self-administered questionnaire including items
regarding knowledge, risk perception and risky behaviour regarding CVD.
Overall, 56.8 % of the participants were knowledgeable (;~70% correct answers) of CVD risks, with a mere 6.6%
indicating heart disease as the greatest health risk for women. The White population (40.2%) was identified as the
race most susceptible to CVD. A significant relationship between risk perception and being informed of the risk of
developing CVD (p=.OOO) and having a family history of CVD (p=.OOO) was found.
It is vital to our nation's health that young female individuals are educated regarding the identification and
modification of risk factors for CVD. As CVD risk factors may be managed through lifestyle modification, genderand
ethnic-specific lifestyle modification programmes should be directed at altering personal behaviours.