Stay in School to Keep Your Heart Healthy

Lower levels of education associated with risk of heart failure

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Those with lower education levels are more likely to be admitted to a hospital with chronic heart failure than those who are better educated -- even after adjusting for lifestyle factors.

The finding arrives from a study at Bispebjerg University Hospital, which followed 18,616 individuals for up to 31 years between 1976 and 2007 and found that better-educated men and women had nearly half the risk of hospital admission for heart failure than those least educated.

"This is the largest and most comprehensive study so far to examine the relationship between socioeconomic factors and the risk of developing heart failure," said Dr. Eva Prescott, study leader and professor of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation at Bispebjerg University Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark. "Although it is well known that socioeconomic deprivation is associated with coronary heart disease, much less is known about the link with the development of chronic heart failure."

Congestive heart failure, which afflicts about 4.9 million Americans, carries some of the same risk factors as coronary artery disease, but less than half of heart-failure patients are caused by heart disease. Heart failure occurs when one or both sides of the heart cannot pump enough blood to the meet the body's needs.

"The clear socioeconomic gradient in risk of developing heart failure found in this and in other studies is not explained by differences in lifestyle," said Prescott. "Thus, we must look for other explanations, which potentially include differences in treatment of patients."

Prescott suggests the socioeconomically deprived may not receive the same standard of treatment as their wealthier, better educated counterparts, accounting for the difference in part.

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Last Updated:
December 17, 2010