28/02/2011 06:18 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Higher Education Helps Lower Women's Blood Pressure

educated-woman-taking-notes Take note: staying on at school could improve your health later in life. Photo: Getty

Staying at school for longer doesn't just improve your job prospects - it can also lead to a lifetime of lower blood pressure in women, says a major US health study.

It's the latest in a line of studies that suggests people who get more education have a lower risk of heart disease - though many scientists suspect the reason people who are more highly educated are healthier because they have better jobs and are less likely to smoke or drink too much alcohol than those who left school early.

This latest study followed 3,890 people for 30 years and monitored their medical history. Educated women, it found, smoke less and have lower body mass indexes (BMIs) - but interestingly, they drink more than less educated women.

Published in the journal BMC Public Health, the study examined how education affects your blood pressure - specifically your systolic blood pressure (the top number of a blood pressure reading, that measures the maximum pressure exerted when your heart contracts).

Women who were very highly educated - that is, to master's degree or doctorate level - showed, on average, a reading of 3.26 units lower than the high school drop-outs (a unit of measurement of blood pressure being millimetres of mercury, or mmHg).

The difference in blood pressure for men was lower at 2.26mmHg.

The researchers suggest that women who are less educated are more likely to have less money and be a single parent, as well more susceptible to depression than those who stayed on at school.

If you left school early, do you agree?

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