Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Advanced degrees add up to lower blood pressure

Date:
February 28, 2011
Source:
Brown University
Summary:
An analysis of thousands of people shows that the more years of higher education people pursue, the lower their blood pressure readings will be for decades afterward, especially among women. Increasing educational access, argues the lead author, could improve public health.

Freshmen on the eve of finals and graduate students staring down a thesis committee may not feel this way, but the privilege of obtaining an advanced education correlates with decades of lower blood pressure, according to a study led by a public health researcher at Brown University. The benefit appears to be greater for women than for men.

Eric Loucks, assistant professor of community health, says the analysis of nearly 4,000 patient records from the 30-year Framingham Offspring Study may help explain a widely documented association in developed countries between education and lower risk of heart disease. The paper was published online in the open access journal BMC Public Health.

"Does education influence heart disease?" said Loucks, who came to Brown in 2009 from McGill University in Montreal, where he did his analysis. "One of the ways to get at that is to see if education is related to the biological underpinnings of heart disease, and one of those is blood pressure."

The difference education makes

Controlling just for age, Loucks and his co-authors found that women who completed 17 years of schooling or more had systolic blood pressure readings that were, on average, 3.26 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) lower than women who did not finish high school. Women who went to college, but did not pursue graduate studies, had a 2 mmHg benefit compared to less educated women. For men, going to graduate school versus not finishing high school made a 2.26 mmHg difference, with a lesser benefit for going to college.

Even after controlling for influences such as smoking, drinking, obesity and blood pressure medication, the benefit persisted, although at a lower level (graduate school gave a benefit of 2.86 mmHg for women and 1.25 mmHg for men).

Loucks then went even further in his analysis by indexing the blood pressure readings to make them all equal at the beginning of the 1971-2001 Framingham study period. This statistical maneuver allowed him to determine whether the analysis measured a static difference apparent early on in life or whether the differences increased at all over time. For women, they did. The most educated group retained a 2.53 mmHg benefit over the least educated. In men, the difference was much less, only 0.34 mmHg.

That the gender differences are so pronounced and appear to become more so as life goes on suggests that education may have a greater impact on women's health over their lifetime than on men's health, Loucks said. That could be because of the correlation between low educational attainment and other health risk factors found in other studies of women.

"Women with less education are more likely to be experiencing depression, they are more likely to be single parents, more likely to be living in impoverished areas and more likely to be living below the poverty line," Loucks said.

One caveat, he said, is that the population in the study, drawn from the suburban community of Framingham, Mass., decades ago, is disproportionately white and that the conclusions might not generalize to other races.

Education and public health

Loucks said the study adds to a chorus of others suggesting that policy makers who want to improve public health and are struggling to do it in other ways, might want to look at improving access to education.

"Socioeconomic gradients in health are very complex," he said. "But there's the question of what do we do about it. One of the big potential areas to intervene on is education."

In addition to Loucks, other authors of the study are researchers Michal Abrahamowicz of McGill, Yongling Xiao of the University of South Australia, and John Lynch of the University of Bristol. Funding for the research came from the Canadian Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Brown University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Eric B. Loucks, Michal Abrahamowicz, Yongling Xiao, and John W. Lynch. Associations of education with 30 year life course blood pressure trajectories: Framingham Offspring Study. BMC Public Health, (in press) [link]

Cite This Page:

Brown University. "Advanced degrees add up to lower blood pressure." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110227204610.htm>.
Brown University. (2011, February 28). Advanced degrees add up to lower blood pressure. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110227204610.htm
Brown University. "Advanced degrees add up to lower blood pressure." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110227204610.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Wedged between buses, lorries and cars, cycling in London isn't for the faint hearted. Nevertheless the number of people choosing to bike in the British capital has doubled over the past 15 years. Duration: 02:27 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

Thailand Totters Towards Waste Crisis

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Fears are mounting in Bangkok that poor planning and lax law enforcement are tipping Thailand towards a waste crisis. Duration: 01:21 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California Passes 'yes-Means-Yes' Campus Sexual Assault Bill

California Passes 'yes-Means-Yes' Campus Sexual Assault Bill

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) California lawmakers pass a bill requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on campuses. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
As Drought Continues LA "water Police" Fight Waste

As Drought Continues LA "water Police" Fight Waste

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) In the midst of a historic drought, Los Angeles is increasing efforts to go after people who waste water. Five water conservation "cops" drive around the city every day educating homeowners about the drought. Duration: 02:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins