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J Hum Hypertens. 2001 Oct;15(10):727-31.

Educational level and hypertension: how socioeconomic differences condition health care.

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  • 1Medical Surgical Department of Cardio-Thoracic Sciences, Second University of Naples, Naples, Italy.


This is the first European study that has evaluated educational level in a large sample of hypertensive outpatients. We established the educational level of the hypertensive outpatients in our unit, and determined whether the awareness of hypertension and its organ damage was education-related. We analysed data from 812 consecutive outpatients (378 men, mean age 50 +/- 10 years) with essential stage I-II hypertension. Subjects were subdivided into two categories: group A subjects were highly educated; group B subjects had a little education. Data were compared with educational level from the 1991 population census for the Campania region (ISTAT data) and with 200 type 2 diabetes patients (96 men, mean age 51 +/- 9 years) from the nearest diabetes unit. For each hypertensive patient we considered clinical, echocardiographic and biochemical parameters. Data from the last census showed a high percentage (80%) of subjects with low education. The percentage of type 2 diabetic patients with little education was high (190 patients, 95%). Conversely, it is somewhat surprising that most hypertensive patients reached high standards of education and worked at sedentary jobs (group A: 736 patients, 91%; P < 0.0001). Multivariate analysis showed that only diastolic blood pressure (P = 0.03) was independently associated with low educational level. Compared to diabetes, hypertension and its risk factors are relatively unknown to people with little education. Education is associated with greater health care and awareness that may overcome the risk related to low physical activity. Thus, we stress the importance of a sound health policy able to reach out to the uneducated and make them aware of hypertension and the health care services available to them.

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