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03-03-2011 | Cardiology | Article

Lengthy education may reduce blood pressure

Abstract

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MedWire News: Study results suggest that spending a long time in education may reduce blood pressure (BP) levels in the long term, particularly in women.

"Low educational attainment has been demonstrated to predispose individuals to high-strain jobs, characterized by high levels of demand and low levels of control, which have been associated with elevated blood pressure," remark Erick Loucks (Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA) and colleagues.

The findings arise from the Framingham Offspring Study, in which the BP levels of 3890 individuals with a mean age of 36.7 years at baseline were assessed over a 30-year period.

All participants were arranged into three groups according to duration of education: short (≤12 years); medium (13-16 years); and long (≥17 years).

Loucks et al found that over the 30-year follow-up, women and men with a long education had mean systolic (S)BP levels that were 3.26 and 2.26 mmHg lower, respectively, than in those with short educations.

Even after adjusting for the effects of confounders, including smoking and alcohol consumption, long education remained associated with lower SBP levels than short education, with mean SBP reductions of 2.86 and 1.25 mmHg among women and men, respectively.

A similar, albeit less pronounced, trend was seen for diastolic BP levels.

Writing in the open access journal BMC Public Health, Loucks and team hypothesize that the association between education and BP may "involve conventional risk factors for hypertension, including smoking, obesity, BP medication use, and alcohol consumption."

They highlight however, that "adjustment for these variables in our study appeared to account for only a small amount of the association in females, and a larger association in males, suggesting there may be other explanatory factors."

Given the stronger association between education and SBP observed in women than men, Loucks and colleagues conclude: "Low socioeconomic position may be a stronger determinant of hypertension risk in women compared with men."

MedWire (www.medwire-news.md) is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Lauretta Ihonor

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