Black adults’ religious practices are linked to better cardiovascular health measures

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Black adults who attend church frequently or have a strong sense of spirituality are more likely to meet key measures of cardiovascular health, such as regular exercise, a balanced diet and maintaining blood pressure in the normal range, new research finds.

The study, published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association, is the first to examine the relationship between black adults’ religious practices and spirituality and adherence to a set of behaviors and other factors considered important to achieve by the American Heart Association. Optimal cardiovascular health.

“Health professionals and researchers should acknowledge the importance of religious and spiritual influences in the lives of African Americans—who are highly religious,” lead study author Dr. Laprinsses C. Brewer said in a news release. He is a preventive cardiologist and assistant professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

“Because our approach includes religious and spiritual beliefs, we can achieve major breakthroughs in fostering relationships between patients and clinicians and community members and scientists to build trust and sociocultural understanding of this population,” she said.

According to a 2017 AHA Scientific Statement, black adults have overall poorer heart health and higher heart disease mortality rates than their non-Hispanic white peers.

AHA’s Life’s Simple 7, developed in 2010, describes three behaviors (diet, physical activity and nicotine exposure) and four physiological factors (weight, cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels) important to good heart health. Sleep was added as an eighth component in June 2022, when the list was renamed Life’s Essential 8.

Researchers analyzed health and religious data collected through in-depth interviews, health screenings and surveys for 2,967 participants in the Jackson Heart Study who identified as African American. The participants – 66% of whom were women – were 54 years old on average. Jackson Heart Study is the largest research on the biggest community of the heart disease in the United States, on the largest communities of the heart disease.

Overall, those who reported more religious activity or had deeper levels of spiritual belief were more likely to meet measures of better heart health.

Incidents in religious services or activities, the 10% high obstacle, a high-obstacle, a high-obstacle, smoothing of heart-healthy diet, was highly hindered and 12% high obstacles. Maintain better blood pressure than those with less frequent church attendance. They had a 15% higher probability of achieving an intermediate or ideal composite cardiovascular health score.

Those who reported engaging in private prayer most often had 12% greater odds of achieving intermediate or ideal metrics for diet and 24% greater odds of not smoking. Religious coping was associated with 18% higher odds of achieving intermediate or ideal levels of physical activity, 10% higher odds of eating a heart-healthy diet, 32% higher odds of not smoking, and 14% higher odds of having an intermediate or ideal composite. Cardiovascular score.

Total spirituality was associated with 11% higher odds of achieving moderate or ideal levels of physical activity and 36% higher odds of not smoking.

Measures of religiosity and spirituality were taken at a single point in time, so it is unknown how they affected heart health over time.

“I was a little surprised by the findings that many of the most challenging to change dimensions of religion and spirituality are associated with improved heart health, such as diet, physical activity and smoking,” Brewer said.

The findings highlight the importance of culturally tailored health efforts to advance health equity, especially for communities facing more socioeconomic challenges, she said.

“Cultural relevance of interventions may increase the potential to impact cardiovascular health and also increase the sustainability and maintenance of healthy lifestyle changes,” Brewer said. “Religiosity and spirituality can act as stress buffers and have therapeutic purposes or support self-empowerment to practice healthy behaviors and seek preventive health services.”

If you have questions or comments about this American Heart Association news story, please email [email protected].

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