Introduction We aimed to compare the associations between education, occupation and marital status with nine cardiovascular risk factors (RF) which explain 90% of incident myocardial infarction.
Methods We surveyed a representative sample of 1704 dwellers of Porto aged ≥40 years using structured questionnaires in 1999–2003. A fasting blood sample was collected. Education (completed years), occupation (upper white collar, lower white collar, blue collar) and marital status (married or not) were the exposures. The outcomes were hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolaemia, smoking, sedentariness, abdominal obesity, diet, alcohol consumption and depression. Subjects were grouped as 0–1, 2–3 or ≥4 RF. Binomial and multinomial logistic regressions were used to estimate age-adjusted ORs.
Results Among women, both lower education and occupation were associated with hypertension, diabetes, sedentariness, abdominal obesity, poor diet, excessive alcohol intake and depression. Smoking was less prevalent among married women, with lower education and occupation. Among men, lower education and occupation were associated with sedentariness and excessive alcohol intake. Diabetes was more prevalent among less educated men. Being married increased the odds of hypertension in women but decreased the odds of smoking and poor diet in men. The effects of education and occupation were stronger in subjects with ≥4 RF than in those with 2–3 RF (reference: 0–1 RF).
Conclusion Overall, lower social standing is associated with adverse cardiovascular risk profiles in a dose-response manner. Gender-specific patterns emerge between education, occupation and marital status across established cardiovascular risk factors, contributing to clarify mechanisms linking socioeconomic position to cardiovascular health.
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