Objectives: This study examined the association between educational attainment and coronary heart disease (CHD) and the factors that may explain this association.
Methods: This population-based case-control study included 292 women with CHD who were 65 years or younger and 292 age-matched controls.
Results: Compared with the adjusted odds ratio for CHD associated with college education, the age-adjusted odds ratio associated with mandatory education (< or = 9 years) was 1.87 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.23, 2.84) and the odds ratio for high school education was 1.35 (95% CI = 0.81, 2.25) (P for trend < .01). The odds ratio for mandatory education was reduced by 82%, to 1.16 (95% CI = 0.69, 2.09), after adjustment for psychosocial stress, unhealthy lifestyle patterns, hemostatic factors, hypertension, and lipids.
Conclusions: Much of the increased risk of CHD in women with low education appears to be linked to psychosocial stress and lifestyle factors. Hemostatic factors, lipids, and hypertension also contribute to a lesser extent. These factors may be considered in strategies geared to reducing socioeconomic inequalities in cardiovascular health.