- The risk of heart attack among adults with no education was double or around 150% higher compared to educated individuals.
- The likelihood of having the first stroke was 50% higher among non-educated individuals.
People with lower educational levels are at higher risk of having heart attacks.
In a study conducted by the Australian National University (ANU), researchers show that high school dropouts or those with low education are at a higher risk of heart attack in comparison to those who have completed their studies and hold a university degree.
‘Further investigation of the link between educational achievement and heart attack will pave way for reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and improving heart health.’
The risk of heart attack is double among people who leave school without a school certificate.
"The lower your education, the more likely you are to have a heart attack or a stroke - that's the disturbing but clear finding," said lead researcher Rosemary Korda, research fellow at the Australian National University (ANU).
Finding the Link
Researchers investigated the link between education levels and cardiovascular diseases by studying 267,153 men and women aged over 45 years from the state of New South Wales. They followed the people for over five years.
The researchers found that in adults aged 45-64 years,the risk of heart attack was more than double, at nearly 150% higher, among those with no educational qualifications compared to people with a university degree.
Among those with intermediate levels of education or non-university qualifications the risk of heart attack was around two-thirds or 70% higher.
The chances of stroke among middle-aged adults who had not completed high school were 50% higher and with non-university qualifications were 20% higher compared to those with a university degree.
The reason for this difference can be attributed to certain factors influenced by education level such as:
- type of job one has
- the place where an individual resides
- the food choices that an individual makes
A similar pattern of inequality also existed between household income and cardiovascular disease events, Korda said.
"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," Korda added.
The research provides an opportunity to further investigate the relationship between educational achievement and cardiovascular diseases, and what can be done to reduce this risk.
The results were published in the International Journal for Equity in Health
- Rosemary J.Korda. Socioeconomic variation in incidence of primary and secondary major cardiovascular disease events: an Australian population-based prospective cohort study. International Journal for Equity in Health; (2016)