More Education, Less Heart Risk, for Some
In high-income countries, the more education a person has, the lower the heart and stroke risk, U.S. researchers say.
However, the study, published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, finds highly educated women in low- and middle-income countries had a slight increase in the incidence of fatal and non-fatal heart attack and stroke.
This may be due to higher smoking rates in women with greater education levels in low-, middle- and high-income regions, the study says.
Smoking, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, typically declines as formal education rises, but researchers found nearly half of the highly educated women from high-income countries smoked, compared with 35 percent for those with the least amount of schooling.
In low- and middle-income countries, smoking rates among the most-educated women are 21 percent versus 14 percent among the least educated.
In men, smoking rates were almost the same across educational groups in low- and middle-income countries. In richer countries, the most-educated men smoked less than did men with the fewest years of formal education.
"We can't assume that just because certain groups are more educated than others that they're going to have healthier lifestyles," the lead author, Dr. Abhinav Goyal of the Emory School of Medicine in Atlanta, said in a statement.