To avoid heart attacks, keep studying

By Doug Bennett • Published: March 10th, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

If you want to avoid a heart attack, your best approach could be to include books and classrooms in your activities. Australian researchers say they have found a link between less education and more heart attacks.

After following the health histories and educational attainment of more than 267,000 men and women in one Australian state, they concluded that the two were conclusively linked. The findings were published recently in the Journal for Equity in Health.

Among adults between the ages of 45 and 64, heart attack rates for those with no educational qualifications were more than double those of university graduates. It also affected stroke rates, the researchers found. Those who didn’t finish high school were 50 percent more likely to have a stroke than college graduates. Even people who finished high school but didn’t graduate from college had a 20 percent higher risk of strokes.

The researchers said the same pattern held true when cardiovascular disease rates were compared with household incomes.

The findings bring more evidence to the discussion about how income and education affect health, and provide important clues about how much cardiovascular disease can be prevented. A higher level of education can affect long-term health by influencing lifestyle factors such as food choices, where people live and the jobs they have. Researchers hope that the findings will provide useful information to policy makers and government officials.

If staying in school — or going back to school — seems like a chore, consider the benefits that it could have for your heart, as well as your mind.