Low IQ May Up Heart Disease Risk

THURSDAY, Feb. 11 (HealthDay News) -- A newly discovered link between lower IQ scores and a higher odds of heart disease suggests that less-intelligent people face an even greater cardiovascular risk than those who are obese or have high blood pressure, researchers say.

However, the findings don't prove that those with low IQs develop more heart disease, they only show a possible connection between intelligence level and heart problems, according to the study authors.

Still, one of the authors suggested the findings show the value of helping kids to be smarter. "From a public health perspective, there is the possibility that IQ can be increased, with some mixed results from trials of early learning and school readiness programs. It may also be worthwhile for health promotion campaigns to be planned with consideration of individual cognition levels," principal investigator Dr. David Batty said in a news release from the European Society of Cardiology.

The study, published in the February issue of the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation, examined more than 1,100 Scottish men and women aged around 55 years in 1987, who were followed-up for two decades.

Of the factors studied, cigarette smoking boosted the risk of heart disease the most, followed by low IQ. The researchers suggested that low IQ could boost the risk of heart disease due to its links to lack of healthy activities and related obesity and high blood pressure. Low IQ could also be a sign of illness or insufficient nutrition during a person's lifetime.

-- Randy Dotinga

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SOURCE: European Society of Cardiology, news release, Feb. 10, 2010