Getting a university degree isn’t just good for your mind—it’s good for your heart, says a new study in the journal BMC Public Health. The longer you spend in education, the lower your blood pressure is likely to be. This is particularly true for women.
Scientists from the US, Canada, UK and Australia examined 30 years of data from 3,890 people who were being followed as part of the Framingham Offspring Study, which tracked the education and medical histories of 3,890 people.
Researchers divided subjects into three groups, low education (12 years or less), middle education (13 to 16 years) and high education (17 years or more). They then calculated the average systolic blood pressure for the 30-year period.
Women with low education had a blood pressure 3.26 mmHg higher than those with a high level of education. In men the difference was 2.26 mmHg.
Lead author Eric Loucks, assistant professor of community health at Brown University, said the analysis may explain a well-known association in the developed world between education and heart disease.
Uneducated people tend to end up in demanding jobs that give workers little control, which have been associated with high blood pressure, said researchers. The effect is greater in women, said Loucks, because “women with less education are more likely to be experiencing depression, they are more likely to be single parents, more likely to be living in impoverished areas and more likely to be living below the poverty line.”