Higher Educational Attainment Prevents Dementia, Study Finds

Higher Educational Attainment Prevents Dementia

Brain News – Finnish researchers show how higher educational attainment helps prevent cardiovascular diseases and dementia in later years. They also highlight the importance of family, education, and lifestyle in preventing such complex health disorders.

New research explores how educational attainment in brain health is related to cardiovascular diseases and memory disorders.

Researchers at the University of Helsinki, Finland, conducted a twin study to understand the relationship between educational attainment, cardiovascular risk factors, and cognitive disorders, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

The study examined Finnish same-sex twins born in or after 1930 in group surveys. They filled out questionnaires on health or health-related behavior, educational levels, and cardiovascular risk factors. A DNA test and a questionnaire were used to confirm the participants’ genetic make-up or zygosity. They also participated in telephone cognition interviews.

The group surveys were designed in such a way that the traits of each pair of twins can be related to their shared genetic and environmental factors, such as culture, education, eating and exercising habits, physical and mental health etc.

The findings, now published in Age and Ageing, show that lower educational attainment is linked to cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol, obesity, etc. This, in turn, leads to poor cognition in later life. Conversely, higher education is linked to lower cardiovascular risk factors and better cognition in older years.

The researchers have inferred that higher education helps people develop a higher cognitive reserve and greater awareness of health conditions. Their education also helps them avail higher-paying jobs and the lifestyle that comes with high income and social status. Because of this, physically and mentally, highly educated people adopt habits that help to keep their brains healthy. This brain health prevents cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and tolerates dementia risk factors more effectively.

The study is significant because it helps detect the causes of severe health disorders like CVD and dementia at a micro-level.

As one of the lead researchers, Paula Iso-Markku, puts it, the study “emphasizes the significance of familial effects in advocating a healthy lifestyle and highlights the importance of education in dementia prevention”.

To Know More You May Relate To

Iso-Markku, P., Kaprio, J., Lindgrén, N., Rinne, J. O., & Vuoksimaa, E. (2022). Education as a moderator of middle-age cardiovascular risk factor—old-age cognition relationships: Testing cognitive reserve hypothesis in epidemiological study. Age and Ageing, 51(2). https://doi.org/10.1093/ageing/afab228

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