Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Charlotte Greene, PhD

Second Advisor

Lindon Young, PhD

Third Advisor

Marcus G Bell, PhD

Abstract

The high stress level placed upon medical school students, particularly during their first and second didactic years, may have a negative effect on their health. Although surveys and subjective questionnaires have been used to evaluate the effects medical school has upon a student’s cardiovascular health, there has been little clinical data obtained to confirm this notion. The aim of this longitudinal study was to demonstrate whether any abnormal cardiovascular parameters, specifically QTc wave interval, cardiac axis vector and blood pressure abnormalities, could be documented to occur in two different classes of medical students during their first two years. Such information can hopefully shed more light on this under investigated area of cardiology and produce more effective prevention and awareness among these young adults. Blood pressure and electrocardiogram recordings obtained from members of the graduating class of 2012 and 2013 at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine were analyzed to determine the number of abnormalities present as well as to compare the difference in frequencies of these abnormalities in male and female medical students. Blood pressure data revealed a statistically significant difference in the frequency of abnormally high blood pressure readings in male compared to female medical students for each class year analyzed. QTc interval data and cardiac axis vector data revealed no statistically significant differences between the sexes during each academic year. Analysis was confounded by the lack of guidelines for young adults in the cardiovascular literature. This lack of information concerning the cardiovascular health of young adults and in particular medical students is one of the main reasons why such data analysis is crucial and must be continued. Further research and analysis are essential to this underdeveloped area of cardiology and is a primary rationale for this study and crucial to increase the awareness of cardiovascular predispositions, risk and abnormalities in this population of future healthcare providers.