Low education, smoking, high blood pressure may lead to increased stroke risk. The combination of smoking and high blood pressure increased stroke risk the most, confirming earlier findings in numerous studies.
In a multicenter Danish study, researchers defined lower education as grade school or lower secondary school (maximum of 10 years) education.
“We found it is worse being a current smoker with lower education than a current smoker with a higher education,” said Helene Nordahl, Ph.D., M.S.C., study lead author and researcher at the Department of Public Health at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. “Targeted interventions aimed at reducing smoking and high blood pressure in lower socioeconomic groups would yield a greater reduction in stroke than targeting the same behaviors in higher socioeconomic groups.”
Researchers divided 68,643 adults (30-70 years old) into low, medium and high education levels and assessed smoking and high blood pressure levels. They found:
- Sixteen percent of men and 11 percent of women were at high-risk of stroke due to low education level, smoking and high blood pressure.
- Men were more at risk of stroke than women, and the risk of stroke increased with age.
- Smokers with low education had a greater risk of stroke than smokers with high education regardless of their blood pressure.
H Nordahl, M Osler, B Frederiksen. Combined Effects of Socioeconomic Position, Smoking, and Hypertension on Risk of Ischemic and Hemorrhagic Stroke. Stroke. published online August 14, 2014;