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Education 'reduces blood pressure'

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Low blood pressure is more likely to be found among people who have spent more time in education, especially women, researchers have claimed.

Data on around 4,000 men and women involved in a 30-year health study in the US was analysed. It was found that women, more than men, who had completed at least 17 years of education tended to have lower blood pressure.

Looking at systolic blood pressure, the scientists said they showed that the more educated women had an average reading of 3.26mm of mercury lower over the 30 years. The equivalent for men was 2.26mmHg lower.

Once adjustments were made for blood pressure medication, alcohol consumption, obesity and smoking, the differences were reduced to an average 2.86mmHg for women and 1.25 mmHg for men.

And when all participants’ blood pressures were made equal at the start of the study, the most educated women had 2.53 mmHg lower after the 30 years. The difference in men after the adjustment fell to just 0.34 mmHg.

Eric Loucks, who organised the study at Brown University, Rhode Island, said: “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.

Data came from an off-shoot of the Framingham Heart Study. The 1971 Framingham Offspring Study followed the children of the original participants.

The British Heart Foundation’s Natasha Stewart said: “These findings support existing evidence about the link between socio-economic deprivation and heart disease risk.

“However, the study only showed up a small blood pressure drop among women and an insignificant decrease among men. It has its limitations too because the relatively small number of people involved were mostly from a white, suburban background. It doesn’t investigate whether the findings apply to all ethnic groups.”

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