Does the amount of gray matter that a person has influence their risk of heart disease? According to the results of a study conducted by Britain’s Medical Research Council (BMRC), having a low IQ is strongly linked to heart disease. Surprisingly, the results indicate that a person’s level of intelligence is second only to smoking when it comes to risk factors for the No. 1 killer of North Americans.
The study, which was published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention, followed 1,145 men and women over a 20-year period. All of the participants are currently in their mid-fifties. According to the BMRC study, the top five risk factors for heart disease are:
- Low Income
- High Blood Pressure
- Lack of Physical Activity
These results are very interesting, to say the least. It’s possible that a person with a lower IQ may not fully understand the steps they should be taking to stay healthy. Another explanation for the results of the study is that individuals who perform better in school have better employment prospects. There is a link between income levels and overall health, with more affluent people having fewer health issues than those who have limited means.
Lack of access to health care may explain why people who have lower incomes are at higher risk for heart disease. Not all employers offer health insurance, and the cost of getting coverage may be a barrier to seeing a doctor for preventive care. Chronic stress and depression may be more common for this segment of the population. Processed foods may be less expensive for those who must stick to a strict budget at the grocery store, and consuming items that are higher in sugar, salt and fat are not the most healthy choices in our diet.