Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine have revealed a significant connection between formal education levels and cardiovascular health in a study published in JAMA Cardiology.
Analyzing data from over 40,000 individuals across three decades, the study highlights how education can influence the likelihood and timing of cardiovascular events like heart attacks or strokes.
Key Findings of the Study
Delayed Cardiovascular Events with Higher Education: The study found that individuals with higher education levels experienced cardiovascular diseases later in life compared to those with less education.
Increased Risk for Less Educated Individuals: Those with less than a high school education had a 1.4 to 1.7 times higher risk of cardiovascular events than college graduates.
Education as a Social Determinant of Health: Education impacts vocational opportunities, healthcare access, health literacy, and lifestyle choices, all of which can affect heart health.
Disparities in Cardiovascular Health by Race
The study also shed light on racial disparities in cardiovascular health. Despite similar educational attainments, Black participants faced higher cardiovascular risks than their white counterparts.
This difference underscores the impact of systemic and structural racism in shaping health outcomes beyond educational factors alone.
Dr. Jared W. Magnani, the lead researcher, emphasizes the need for healthcare professionals to consider educational attainment as a key factor in assessing long-term health risks.
He advocates for integrating social determinants of health, like education, into clinical trials and research designs to better understand and address these disparities.
This study underscores the profound, long-lasting influence of education on cardiovascular health, highlighting its protective role in delaying the onset of heart diseases.
It also calls attention to the need for a more holistic approach in healthcare that considers social determinants and addresses systemic disparities to improve outcomes for all individuals.
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The research findings can be found in JAMA Cardiology.