Document Type


Date of Original Version



Nutrition and Food Sciences


More than one-half of young adults aged 18–24 y have at least 1 coronary heart disease (CHD) risk factor and nearly one-quarter have advanced atherosclerotic lesions. The extent of atherosclerosis is directly correlated with the number of risk factors. Unhealthy dietary choices made by this age group contribute to weight gain and dyslipidemia. Risk factor profiles in young adulthood strongly predict long-term CHD risk. Early detection is critical to identify individuals at risk and to promote lifestyle changes before disease progression occurs. Despite the presence of risk factors and pathological changes, risk assessment and disease prevention efforts are lacking in this age group. Most young adults are not screened and are unaware of their risk. This review provides pathological evidence along with current risk factor prevalence data to demonstrate the need for early detection. Eighty percent of heart disease is preventable through diet and lifestyle, and young adults are ideal targets for prevention efforts because they are in the process of establishing lifestyle habits, which track forward into adulthood. This review aims to establish the need for increased screening, risk assessment, education, and management in young adults. These essential screening efforts should include the assessment of all CHD risk factors and lifestyle habits (diet, exercise, and smoking), blood pressure, glucose, and body mass index in addition to the traditional lipid panel for effective long-term risk reduction.