Health and Education: It’s Heart Breaking to Not Finish Your Education

During the past twenty or more years, I have listened to the complaints of high school students, their families, and the public. The same complaint: “Why do we need a liberal arts education?” The question goes much further than a liberal arts education because it states that children should learn a trade. 

Recent events at one university in Colorado included eliminating language, arts, and other liberal arts classes. 

Research studies conducted during the last twenty or more years consistently show the same results. There is a direct connection between the level of education and heart disease. The lower the level of education, the higher the risk for cardiovascular disease and death. Regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, or nation, these results.

From the American Heart Association, 2019.

Education level may predict the risk of dying for people with heart disease.

By American Heart Association News

“How long people stay in school may play a significant role in predicting how well those with coronary heart disease will fare.

Education level has influenced people’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The new study examines just how much of a factor it plays among people with established coronary artery disease due to a buildup of cholesterol and fatty plaque deposits in the heart’s arteries.

Researchers looked at 6,318 older adults in three Atlanta-based hospitals who underwent a procedure to diagnose and assess problems in coronary arteries. Each person completed questions about the highest level of education completed. Other demographic details and medical history followed for four years.

Among the study’s participants, 16% had received a graduate degree, 42% had finished college, 38% had completed high school, and 4% had completed elementary or middle school.

Researchers found that compared to people with graduate degrees, those with lower educational attainment appeared to have a higher risk of heart attack, dying from a cardiovascular event, and overall death.

People with elementary or middle school education had a 52% higher risk of dying from any cause during the study than someone who attained a graduate degree. People who completed high school had a 43% increased risk. College graduates had a 26% higher risk than people with graduate degrees.

The higher risk remained even after adjusting for traditional cardiovascular risk factors like diabetes, high blood pressure and tobacco use, and other demographic characteristics, including sex and income level.

“We adjusted for everything that would be a risk determinant, and despite all that, just the educational level was an independent predictor of outcome,” said the study’s senior author, Dr. Arshed Quyyumi, a cardiology professor at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

“What’s striking is how important the role of education is,” he said. “Most of us practitioners, we don’t ask patients for their educational level when we’re seeing them – and we don’t take any added precautions when you find that somebody may not be as well educated as another person.”

The findings were presented Tuesday at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Paris and published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Quyyumi said the results show a need for increased awareness among physicians to be more vigilant about following through with heart patients to make sure they’re taking medicine and making recommended lifestyle changes to lower risk. It also shows the link between a person’s health and social determinants, factors that influence where and how people live, learn, work and play.

Social determinants of health represent “a phenomenon outside of biology and genetics, outside of traditional risk factors,” said Dr. Clyde Yancy, professor and cardiology chief at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.”

Multiple studies done worldwide consistently show the same results.

The message is clear. Get an education! 

Help is Available. Contact Dr. Schwartz at

“I’m So Bored”

I’m So Bored!

Have you ever heard this plaintive cry or uttered it yourself? This lament about boredom affects young or old alike. Unfortunately, however, we do not know about it, except boredom is very unpleasant. So, what is boredom, what seems to cause it, and what can we do about it?

According to the Oxford American Dictionary, second edition, the word bored “is a feeling of being weary because one is unoccupied or lacks interest in their current activity.” Another definition of “bored” is a “feeling” of having nothing to do. The word “feeling” in the last sentence is in quotes because boredom is subjective and in the person’s conscious experience. In other words, if two people attend a lecture and one is bored and falls asleep. Still, the other one is fascinated. It means that they each have a different and subjective reaction to the same experience. Due to feeling bored, one person cannot focus their attention on the lecture and gradually fall asleep, unlike the political science class I took in undergraduate school many years ago. Others in the class were fascinated, but I could barely keep my eyes open.

What Causes Boredom?

It has never been clear what causes boredom, but many theories and explanations exist. Speculation has it that some people crave a lot of external stimulation to prevent boredom. The particular type of external stimulation will vary from one individual to the next. For instance, those extroverted people are very successful in finding people to speak to and avert becoming bored. The constant stimulation from the successful ways they interact with people is a continuous source of them. However, introverted people may have more of a problem finding motivation because socializing with people does not come so quickly to them.

Some researchers believe that some people experience boredom out of an inability to know what they are feeling and what they want. Alexithymia is the inability to understand what one’s feelings are. 

People who experience alexithymia lack a fantasy and dream life or cannot remember their dreams. If they remember them, they have no way of explaining or imagining what they might mean. One does not have to experience alexithymia in its full-blown flatness. Still, the inability to know what one prefers to do is a similar type of thing. In other words, it is the inability to know what to do, what might feel good, or to have any hobbies, interests, or enjoyments that leads to the feeling of being bored.

One theory of boredom comes from psychoanalysis. The theory states that boredom is anger and hostility that a person turns against the self, resulting in boredom. 

Many professionals in substance abuse state that boredom is one catalyst for drug and alcohol abuse. The big book of Alcoholics Anonymous suggests that yearning or wanting, along with bored feelings, leads the alcoholic to drink. Using a similar explanation, many teenagers turn to drugs and alcohol out of boredom at home and in school.

Many years ago, I suggested that adolescents feel bored because their metabolism operates more quickly than during adulthood. The supposed result is that young people experience time passing very slowly. Supposedly, as we age, metabolism slows with the result that time seems to pass more quickly. Well, I do not know if a slowed metabolism is why time seems to fly by so fast for me, but it certainly seems to move at an ever-quickening pace, and many of my peers agree.

Addiction specialists believe that boredom can be a symptom of depression. The lack of interest in anything is the withdrawal from the world due to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. In addition, a lack of stimulation in the environment can promote boredom among small children because their natural curiosity and need to explore are not satisfied. 

Finally, in school, classes that are either too difficult or too easy for a child or adult can lead to boredom. For example, those who are incredibly bright and have high IQs can feel bored if the content of the lessons is not stimulating because they are too easy. On the opposite side of the spectrum, classes that are too challenging for students can lead to boredom because what they are learning is beyond their ability or readiness to master the content.

What to do?

Suppose you have a chronic sense of boredom or a child who complains about boredom at home or school. In that case, you need to explore the possibility of depression or something else causing that uncomfortable feeling. For example, if your child is bored in school, they might be in the incorrect class. While many children complain about boring school, they should not dismiss it. Many youngsters are unwilling to talk about what is bothering them at school. Perhaps there is a bully the youngster fears to discuss or due to classes being too easy or hard. A fear of talking about “I am bored” can represent many things, especially when a child constantly repeats it.

There is always the possibility of consulting a mental health professional for yourself or your child if boredom continues unabated.

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