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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2012 Mar;32(3):815-21. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.111.241182. Epub 2012 Jan 5.

Socioeconomic status, cardiovascular risk factors, and subclinical atherosclerosis in young adults: the cardiovascular risk in Young Finns Study.

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  • 1Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Turku, and Department of Medicine, Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland.



The goal of this study was to investigate the extent to which socioeconomic status (SES) in young adults is associated with cardiovascular risk factor levels and carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) and their changes over a 6-year follow-up period.


The study population included 1813 subjects participating in the 21- and 27-year follow-ups of the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study (baseline age 24-39 years in 2001). At baseline, SES (indexed with education) was inversely associated with body mass index (P=0.0002), waist circumference (P<0.0001), glucose (P=0.01), and insulin (P=0.0009) concentrations; inversely associated with alcohol consumption (P=0.02) and cigarette smoking (P<0.0001); and directly associated with high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels (P=0.05) and physical activity (P=0.006). Higher SES was associated with a smaller 6-year increase in body mass index (P=0.001). Education level and IMT were not associated (P=0.58) at baseline, but an inverse association was observed at follow-up among men (P=0.004). This became nonsignificant after adjustment with conventional risk factors (P=0.11). In all subjects, higher education was associated with a smaller increase in IMT during the follow-up (P=0.002), and this association remained after adjustments for conventional risk factors (P=0.04).


This study shows that high education in young adults is associated with favorable cardiovascular risk factor profile and 6-year change of risk factors. Most importantly, the progression of carotid atherosclerosis was slower among individuals with higher educational level.

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