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Higher Education May Benefit Some Heart Attack Patients

TUESDAY, Jan. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Levels of schooling may affect treatment and outcomes of patients who suffer a type of heart attack called acute ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), a new study reveals.

Commonly considered the most dangerous type of heart attack, STEMI occurs when the coronary artery is totally blocked, causing damage to a large area of the heart.

In the new study, Dr. Rajendra H. Mehta, from Duke Clinical Research Institute and Duke University Medical Center, and colleagues analyzed data from 11,326 STEMI patients in a number of countries and found that those who completed less than eight years of education were less likely to receive certain treatments and more likely to die.

Patients with less than eight years of schooling were four to 13 times more likely to die or suffer a nonfatal stroke within 30 days after their heart attack, compared to those with more than 16 years of education. About 17.5 percent of patients with less education died within one year, compared with 3.5 percent of those with more education, the investigators found.

The researchers also noted that aspirin therapy and beta blockers were used less often in patients with fewer years of education.

The findings were released online Jan. 3 and are scheduled for publication in the Jan. 11 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Mehta and colleagues suggested that doctors ask patients about their level of education and spend more time teaching less-educated patients about coronary disease and the importance of prevention and compliance with treatments.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about heart attacks.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American College of Cardiology, news release, Jan. 3, 2011

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