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Educational Attainment Positively Linked to CVD Risk Factors

Increased education linked to reductions in smoking, depression, triglycerides, heart disease

WEDNESDAY, June 26, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Educational attainment is positively associated with reduced smoking rates, depression, triglycerides, and heart disease, according to a study published online June 25 in PLOS Medicine.

Rita Hamad, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues linked census data on educational attainment during childhood with outcomes in adulthood using data from the 1992 to 2012 waves of the Health and Retirement Study (30,853 participants) and data from the 1971 to 2012 waves of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (44,732 participants). Self-reported CVD outcomes and related risk factors were examined in addition to related serum biomarkers.

The researchers used instrumental variables analysis and found a correlation for increased educational attainment with reduced smoking rates, depression, triglycerides, and heart disease and with improvements in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Increased educational attainment also correlated with increased body mass index and total cholesterol. Most findings were cross-validated across both data sets, but they were not robust to state fixed-effects inclusion.

“Our findings support the established associations between education and reduced smoking, depression, and heart disease and improved HDL, suggesting that both health behaviors and stress are important mechanisms,” the authors write. “Our study thereby contributes new knowledge on potential pathways through which education may influence CVD, and it adds to the evidence supporting broader implementation of interventions to target this key social determinant of health.”

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