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Womens Health Issues. 2005 Mar-Apr;15(2):80-8.

The association between educational level and risk of cardiovascular disease fatality among women with cardiovascular disease.

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College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University; New York Presbyterian Hospital, New York, New York, USA.



The inverse relation of socioeconomic status with incident cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) has been well established. However, few data are available describing this relation among ethnically diverse women with prevalent CVD. Using education as a proxy for socioeconomic status, we examined its relation to CVD mortality among women with established CVD.


Data from 2,157 women with CVD at baseline, who participated in nine long-term U.S. cohort studies, were pooled.


Cox regression models adjusted for history of diabetes mellitus, total cholesterol, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, body mass index, smoking, race/ethnicity, and age at baseline were used to estimate hazard ratios for CVD mortality between non-high school graduates and high school graduates.


During a mean follow-up time of 11.5 years, 615 CVD deaths were observed. There was an age-dependent (p = .003) inverse association between education and CVD mortality among women with CVD. At age 60, the risk of dying due to CVD among non-high school graduates was more than twice greater than that of high school graduates (hazard ratio = 2.34; 95% CI 1.27-4.29). At age 65, the hazard ratio decreased to 1.31 (95% CI 1.00-1.71). By age 70, there was no difference in the hazard of dying between high school graduates and nongraduates (hazard ratio = 1.01; 95% CI .85-1.21).


Our results show that among women with CVD, educational level was a significant, and age-dependent, predictor of fatal CVD independent of other traditional risk factors. These women are an important high-risk population to target secondary prevention and educational efforts.

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