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Advanced degrees add up to lower blood pressure
Date:2/27/2011

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] 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 beginnin
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Contact: David Orenstein
david_orenstein@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert

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