Low IQ second highest predictor for heart disease
posted on: Feb 11, 2010
Low IQ is the second highest predictor of heart disease, according to new research conducted by Dr David Batty and colleagues at MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit (SPHSU) and the Centre for Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh.
The findings, published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention & Rehabilitation, come from the West of Scotland Twenty-07 Study, a population study designed to investigate the influence of social and economic factors on health. The analysis was based on data collected from a large cohort of 1,145 men and women, originally recruited in 1987 aged around 55 and followed for 20 years, until 2007. Height, weight, blood pressure, smoking habits, physical activity, education and occupation were examined as part of the study. Cognitive ability (IQ) was also assessed using a standard test of general intelligence.
Statistical analysis of risk factors showed that smoking was the strongest predictor of developing heart disease, followed by IQ. Researchers found that people with lower IQ were less likely to link unhealthy behaviour such as smoking or lack of exercise to increased health risks such as obesity and high blood pressure. Social environment factors, including illness and poor nutrition accumulated throughout life, could also play a big factor for those with low IQ.
Commenting on the public health implications of the findings, Dr David Batty said "Our results suggest that intelligence might be linked with more healthy behaviour, such as taking exercise or abstaining from smoking. It's also possible that environmental impacts through life, such as illness or poor nutrition, take their toll on IQ. It may be worthwhile for health promotion campaigns to be planned with consideration of individual IQ levels."