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People With Lower Incomes, Lower Education Levels Have Higher Death Rates After Experiencing Heart Attack
Date:6/17/2008

nt were survivors among those who had fewer than 12 years of education; 81 percent survived among people with 12 years of education; and 85 percent survived among people with greater than 12 years of education.

The authors say that while many previous studies have sought to link socioeconomic status and poor outcomes following heart attack, this study design has yielded some unique results.

"Interestingly, despite the higher-than-average socioeconomic status of this population, the associations of individual education and neighborhood income with death after heart attack were stronger than those reported in many previous studies," notes Mayo Clinic cardiovascular researcher Yariv Gerber, Ph.D., the study's lead author. "We think our approach of evaluating two different and complementary indicators of socioeconomic status allowed us to capture a wider spectrum of this complex theory."

Mayo researchers believe that the association observed for education could be related to education's positive effect on factors that include job opportunities, income, housing, access to nutritious foods and health insurance.

"Higher levels of education also could directly affect health through greater knowledge acquired during schooling and greater empowerment and self-efficacy," writes Dr. Gerber. "As recently reported, education is strongly associated with health literacy, which in turn affects one's ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions."

Mayo researchers also point out that more specific mechanisms linking low socioeconomic status to survival following heart attack could also be related to the greater difficulty that poorer individuals with lower education levels have in attending cardiac rehabilitation programs and adhering to medications and lifestyle recommendations.

A peer-review journal, Mayo Clinic Proceedings publishes original articles and reviews
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SOURCE Mayo Clinic Proceedings
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