Religion linked to better heart health for black Americans

September 2, 2022 — Black Americans who attend church and pray regularly have better cardiovascular health than Black Americans who aren’t as religious or don’t hold religious beliefs, a new study finds.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Associationused survey responses and health exams for 2,967 African Americans in and around Jackson.

Those who frequently attended religious services were 15% more likely to have an intermediate or ideal cardiovascular health score according to American Heart Association criteria.

Those who prayed regularly in private had a 12% increased chance of achieving an intermediate or ideal Heart Association metric for eating. Those who said they used “religious coping” were 14% more likely to have good cardiovascular health.

The study’s lead author, cardiologist LaPrincess C. Brewer, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, said the results were somewhat surprising because diet, physical activity and smoking are extremely difficult to modify.

Study participants were grouped by their self-reported level of spirituality, i.e. belief in the existence of a supreme being, and how often they attended religious services, prayed in private and used religion to cope with stressful events and life challenges. life.

They were then grouped according to the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 health factors (diet, physical activity, nicotine exposure, weight, cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar). The association changed the Simple 7 to Essential 8 last June, adding sleep.

Brewer said the study could help doctors better treat black Americans, who statistics show tend to have poorer overall cardiovascular health than non-Hispanic whites. Death rates from heart disease are higher among black Americans than among white adults.

“Our findings highlight the important role that culturally appropriate health promotion initiatives and lifestyle change recommendations can play in promoting health equity,” Brewer said in a statement. hurry. “The cultural appropriateness of interventions may increase their likelihood of influencing cardiovascular health as well as the sustainability and maintenance of healthy lifestyle changes.”

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