Higher Education Benefits Heart Health for All, But Less So for Blacks

Individuals with higher education backgrounds tend to have better health outcomes relating to their heart and cardiovascular systems. But a new study led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh finds that the benefits of higher education to heart health are unequal for different racial and ethnic groups.

Researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey on 7,771 individuals who were at least 25-years-old and free of cardiovascular disease. They rated each individual on smoking behavior, body mass index, physical activity, diet, total cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood glucose.

The results showed that participants with a college degree were 4.12 times more likely to have an ideal cardiovascular health rating compared to those who did not have a high school degree. But for Black individuals, the benefits of higher education on cardiovascular health were far less. They were only twice as likely to have an idea cardiovascular health rating as lower educated Blacks.

The authors write: “The pattern of differential race‐based health outcomes, irrespective of educational status, is consistent with the theory that racial minority groups do not gain the same degree of protective effects of elevated socioeconomic status as do those who are White. Although higher educational attainment and other improved socioeconomic factors may be expected to confer improved health outcomes, racially minoritized people in the higher strata may continue to encounter barriers that dampen the potential health benefits of upward social mobility found among the racial majority.”

“It’s important to interpret these study results with the understanding that there are structural barriers and policy solutions that need to be considered to address these findings,” said Amber Johnson, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and the lead author of the study. “It boils down to the fact that these challenges include the social and structural determinants of health that need to be addressed.”

The full study, “Educational Attainment, Race, and Ethnicity as Predictors for Ideal Cardiovascular Health: From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey,” was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. It may be accessed here.

Related Articles


  1. It appears tome that Amber was only using a portion of her brain with this research by either intentionally or even unintentionally not factoring in main contributing variable that’s called “White American racism”. Amber’s acute inability even mention that integral role that systemic and institutional racism play in “heart health” is very disappointing.

    In my view, this research narrative in no DIFFERENT than what White, Asian, and White Latinos conduct regrading native born Black Americans. I wonder if “Amber” is a “native born Black American”!

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Elizabeth City State University Establishes Transfer Agreements With a Local Community College

Through three recently signed agreements, students at the College of the Albemarle now have the opportunity for a seamless transfer to Elizabeth City State University upon completion of their associate's degree.

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia Reports on Demographic Disparities Within American Public Workforce

The report found that Black workers in overrepresented occupations make about $20,000 to $30,000 less than the compensation of White workers in overrepresented fields. African Americans were also found to be more likely than White Americans to work in a lower-wage, segregated occupations.

Christon Arthur Named First Black President of La Sierra University in California

Upon assuming his new role on July 1, Dr. Arthur will become the first Black president of La Sierra University. He has served as provost of Andrews University in Michigan for the past eight years.

Business Leaders Engaging in Same-Race Diversity Initiatives Are Perceived as Displaying Favoritism

When asked to measure their employers' effectiveness in same-race versus cross-race diversity efforts, participants were more likely to negatively rate leaders who engaged in diversity initiatives geared towards members of their own race.

Featured Jobs