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Lack of Education Doubles Heart Attack Risk

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 04 Jan 2017
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Image: People with a higher education suffer les CVD related deaths (Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto).
Image: People with a higher education suffer les CVD related deaths (Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto).
People with minimal education attainment are more than twice as likely to have a heart attack as those with a university degree, according to a new study.

Researchers at Australian National University (ANU; Canberra), The Sax Institute (Sydney, Australia), and other institutions conducted a study to examine the effect of socioeconomic variation in rates of primary and secondary cardiovascular disease (CVD) events in middle-aged and older Australians. The study cohort included 267,153 men and women ages 45 and over, linked to hospital and death data to December 2013. Outcomes comprised death, myocardial infarction (MI), and stroke, in those with and without prior CVD.

The results revealed that heart attack rates among those with no educational qualifications were more than double than those of people with a university degree. The risk was around two-thirds higher among those with intermediate levels of education (i.e., non-university qualifications). In addition, mid-age adults who did not complete high school were 50% more likely to have a first stroke than those with a university degree, and those with intermediate levels of education were 20% more likely. The study was published on November 21, 2016, in the International Journal for Equity in Health.

“The lower your education, the more likely you are to have a heart attack or a stroke -- that's the disturbing but clear finding from our research,” said lead author Rosemary Korda, PhD, of ANU. “What these differences in cardiovascular disease rates between more and less disadvantaged groups show us is just how much cardiovascular disease in the population can be prevented.”

“We know that a good education impacts long term health by influencing what type of job you have, where you live and what food choices you make,” commented Kerry Doyle, CEO of the Heart Foundation of New South Wales. “This research provides an opportunity to further unpack the specific relationship between educational achievement and cardiovascular disease risk, and what can be done to reduce this risk.”

Related Links:
Australian National University
The Sax Institute

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