Higher Education Lowers Blood Pressure, New Research Shows

Education isn’t just good for your brain, it may also be good for your heart. This according to a new study from researchers at Brown University looking at data from the so-called Framingham Offspring Study.

The longitudinal study looked at nearly 4,000 participants at seven different physical examinations over the course of 30 years. Using what the researchers describe as “mixed linear models,” they recorded (and then calculated) average systolic blood pressure (SBP) among the participants. SBP is the top number in a blood pressure reading and is a measure of the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. (The bottom number is a measure of one’s diastolic blood pressure, or the pressure in the arteries between heart beats.) According to the Mayo Clinic, isolated systolic hypertension can lead to stroke, heart disease, chronic kidney disease and even dementia.

Researchers grouped their study participants into three groups: those who’d had fewer than 12 years of education (meaning high school or less), those who’d had between 13 and 16 years of education, and those with 17 or more years of school under their belts, which researchers said approximated “more than an undergraduate college degree.”