Less Educated Have Higher Coronary Artery Calcium

Researchers find inverse relationship between education and early signs of atherosclerosis

TUESDAY, April 18 (HealthDay News) -- People with the least amount of education are two to four times as likely to have coronary artery calcium (CAC) deposits as those with the most education, according to a study in the April 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Lijing L. Yan, Ph.D., of Northwestern University in Chicago, and colleagues enrolled 2,913 subjects who were aged 18 to 30 in 1985-1986 and studied them for 15 years. Participants included 128 subjects with less than a high school education, 498 high school graduates, 902 with some college, 764 college graduates, and 621 with postgraduate education.

After adjusting for age, race and sex, the researchers found that the odds ratios for having CAC were 4.14 for those with less than high school education, 1.89 for high school graduates, 1.47 for those with some college, and 1.24 for college graduates compared to those with more than a college education. After adjusting for baseline systolic blood pressure, smoking, waist circumference, physical activity and total cholesterol, the respective odds ratios were 2.61, 1.38, 1.17 and 1.13, compared to those with more than a college education.

"Fundamental changes in preventive measures very early in life are required to address social and economic disparities in health," the authors conclude. "In addition, integrated prevention and intervention strategies effective for less educated persons are also needed."

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Rick Ansorge

Rick Ansorge

Published on April 18, 2006

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