How Education Level May Impact Heart Attack Survival


istock_000014945943smallA heart attack, or myocardial infarction, occurs when the heart is unable to get oxygenated blood that it needs. When the coronary arteries that supply the heart with blood become narrow as a result of atherosclerosis, the arteries are more vulnerable to becoming blocked by a blood clot.

Education Linked with Better Heart Health

Tens of thousands of Americans can have a healthy recovery from heart attack, but their long-term survival may depend on their level of education. According to a Norwegian study that followed over 70,000 cardiac patients, the more educated a person is, the less likely they are to develop heart failure after a heart attack.

A heart attack can weaken the heart and cause heart failure. With heart failure, the heart is unable to sufficiently pump the oxygen-rich blood that the body needs to function. People with heart failure may experience fatigue or have difficulty breathing.

Lack of Education Increases Risk for Heart Failure

Researchers noted that heart attack patients who had not completed high school were at a greater risk for developing heart failure.
In fact, the Norwegian study noted a direct correlation between education level and heart failure risk. Adults who had completed high school had a 9 percent lower risk of heart failure and those with a college degree has a 20 percent lower risk.

Heart-Healthy Behaviors Can Be Learned

While education itself cannot protect the heart, the findings point to the fact that people with limited education may delay seeking medical care and may have limited access to such care. Lifestyle factors may also impact the chance for heart failure, as adults with higher education levels may be more likely to engage in heart-healthy behaviors and may also be more diligent about taking medication prescribed after a heart attack.