People who go to college are less likely to have a heart attack or stroke because they are healthier, a study suggests.
Scientists found that for every 3.6 extra years they spent in education, people had a BMI that was one point lower.
They also found the same amount of time – similar to that required to obtain a university degree – also lowered blood pressure.
Being overweight can lead to high blood pressure or diabetes, which is known to increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Those who follow higher education are less likely to have a heart attack or stroke because they are healthier, a study led by University of Bristol has suggested
Scientists already knew that the risk of cardiovascular disease is lower for people who spend more time in education.
The new study was led by Imperial College London, University of Bristol, University of Cambridge and University of Oxford.
The academics wanted to discover precisely why spending more time on education – an additional 3.6 years – can lower the risk of heart disease.
They found better weight, smoking habits and blood pressure accounted for nearly half of the & # 39; protection & # 39; for those in higher education.
WHAT IS CVD AND THE KNOWN RISK FACTORS?
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a group of diseases of the heart and blood vessels, including cardiovascular disease, a heart attack and a stroke.
About 26 percent of all deaths in the UK are the result of cardiovascular disease.
About 42,000 people die prematurely – under the age of 75 – as a result of the disease.
An estimated seven million people in the UK live with CVD, which costs the NHS £ 6.8 billion a year.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death in the UK.
However, it is believed that 80 percent of CHD and stroke can be prevented by changes in lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and smoking.
- If your blood pressure is too high, sometimes caused by high blood sugar levels in diabetes, alcohol and tobacco use and poor nutrition, this can damage your blood vessels.
- The harmful substances in tobacco can damage and reduce your blood vessels.
- Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is found in the blood. If you have high cholesterol, this may cause your blood vessels to become narrower and you increase the risk of developing a blood clot.
- Being overweight or obese due to diet or inactivity increases the risk of developing diabetes and high blood pressure, both risk factors for CVD.
- If you have a family history of CVD, your risk of developing it is also increased.
The other half remains a mystery, but scientists predict that this could be due to the fact that lower educated people do not see their doctors as often as they should, and are therefore less inclined to participate in health care initiatives to stop smoking, for example.
Researchers used data from more than 200,000 people to compare the number of years spent in education with various factors.
They include the body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, how much they have smoked and events such as heart attacks or strokes.
The research team also searched for genetic data from more than one million people.
They focused on points in DNA called a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) that are linked to the amount of time that someone spends in education.
The team, led by Alice Carter from the University of Bristol, compared this with genetic markers for BMI, blood pressure and smoking.
The results, published in the BMJ, show that 40 percent of the reason why people in education are protected against a heart attack or stroke can be attributed to a low BMI, low blood pressure and a lower chance of smoking.
In person, the BMI contributes 18 percent, blood pressure 27 percent and smoking status 34 percent. The combined number is lower because the effects & # 39; overlap each other & # 39 ;.
Dr. Dipender Gill, co-author, said: & # 39; We now need to investigate what other reasons can connect education and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. & # 39;
One possibility is that people who spend more time in education will see their doctor sooner with any health problems, said Dr. Gill.
They may also have access to private healthcare.
The study did not take exercise, nutrition or other health profiles into account because they were too closely related to BMI.
Dr. Alice Carter, co-author of Bristol, stated that people who left school early should be focused on reducing the risk of heart disease.
Dr. Carter stated that leaving school earlier does not necessarily mean that a person will continue to develop a heart condition.
She added that future research will investigate whether those who are higher educated will receive a prescription sooner.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a general term for any condition that affects the heart or blood vessels, including heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.
An estimated 17.3 million people worldwide died from CVD in 2008, accounting for 30 percent of all deaths, according to the World Health Organization.
Charities warn that 42,000 people – under the age of 75 – die prematurely every year from CVD.
Mortality rates from coronary heart disease are highest in areas that are most disadvantaged.
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