This site is intended for health professionals only

Education call over blood pressure

Female students could be doing both their heart and brain good by hitting the books, research has suggested.

The call came after researchers revealed a link between lower lifetime blood pressure and years of studying.

Although stronger in women, the team said the findings also applied to men.

The US-based team based its findings on a three-decade study of nearly 4,000 men and women.

Experts have previously linked high blood pressure to heart disease.

Researchers looked at systolic blood pressure, which measures blood pressure with each heart beat, and compared men and women who had completed less than 12 or more than 17 years of education.

They found that more educated women had readings 3.26 millimetres of mercury (mmHg) lower, on average, over the 30-year timespan.

Men who had a longer period of education had systolic blood pressure 2.26 mmHg lower than those schooled for less time.

The pattern remained even after adjusting for a range of influences such as blood pressure medication, smoking, obesity and alcohol consumption. This reduced the differences to 2.86 mmHg for women and 1.25 mmHg for men.

The findings were published in the online journal BMC Public Health.

Study leader Dr Eric Loucks, from Brown University in Providence, 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."

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Blood Pressure Association