Graduation Date


Document Type

Senior Thesis


Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Primary Major


Program Director

Andrea Boyle, PhD, FNAP

Thesis Advisor

Patricia Harris, PhD


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is increasingly more prevalent in today’s society and is attributed to an alarming percentage of American hospitalizations and deaths. Americans are unhealthier than ever before, and the main contributor is the Western diet. Diet is a double-edged sword that can offer benefits or detriments to one’s health. CVD encompasses numerous diagnoses originating from various underlying physiological alterations. These alterations are downstream effects of increased body weight and BMI, increased cholesterol levels, decreased insulin sensitivity and increased arterial plaque buildup. Research shows that a plant-based diet has the potential to manage and reverse all fundamental physiological alterations that lead to CVD.

A plant-based diet has many health benefits, such as decreased weight and BMI, lower LDL cholesterol levels, increased insulin sensitivity in cells, decreased HbA1c, reduction or reversal of arterial plaque buildup and a decreased incidence of a cardiac event occurring. Individuals are diagnosed with CVD at a younger age, including children. While the diagnosis of CVD in adults has been extensively studied, there is a gap in the literature studying participants from younger generations, such as college students. The majority of participants in the studies described below were individuals age 35 or above, most of which had pre-existing conditions or risk factors for CVD (obesity, diabetes etc.). The proposed study includes a population of younger individuals, between 18-28 years of age, in hopes to intervene and establish lifestyle modifications that prevent CVD related illnesses from developing in the first place. The majority of American healthcare budget is spent treating illnesses instead of preventing them. Instead of treating the illness, we should focus on preventing the development of risk factors for that illness. A plant-based diet can do just that in regard to CVD development.

Available for download on Monday, May 13, 2024