Religious practices linked to better heart health measures in black adults

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

The study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, is the first to investigate the association between religious practices and spirituality among black adults and adherence to a range of behaviors and other factors considered critical by the American Heart Association for achieving results. optimal. cardiovascular health.

“Healthcare professionals and researchers should recognize the importance of religious and spiritual influences in the lives of African Americans, who tend to be highly religious,” said study author Dr. LaPrincess C. Brewer, preventive cardiologist and assistant professor of medicine. at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

“With religious and spiritual beliefs taken into account in our approaches, we could make important strides in promoting the relationship between patients and doctors and between community members and scientists to build trust and sociocultural understanding of this population,” Brewer said.

The researchers analyzed health and religious data collected through interviews, health screenings, and surveys for 2,967 Jackson Heart Study participants who identified themselves as African Americans. The participants, 66% of whom were women, were 54 years old on average. The Jackson Heart Study is the largest community survey of cardiovascular disease among black adults in the United States. Running since 1998, it includes more than 5,000 adults living in the area around Jackson, Mississippi.

Those who reported more religious activity or had deeper levels of spiritual beliefs were more likely to meet measures of good cardiovascular health. Those who attended religious services or activities most frequently were 16% more likely to meet intermediate or ideal physical activity metrics, 10% more likely to follow a heart-healthy diet, 50% more likely not to smoke and 12% more likely to maintain good blood pressure than those who attend church less frequently. They had a 15% greater chance of achieving an intermediate or ideal composite cardiovascular health score.

Those who reported engaging in private prayer more frequently were 12% more likely to achieve intermediate or ideal dietary metrics and 24% more likely not to smoke.

Religious coping was associated with 18% more likely to achieve intermediate or ideal levels of physical activity, 10% more likely to eat a heart-healthy diet, 32% more likely not to smoke and 14% more likely to have an intermediate composite or ideal cardiovascular score.

Total spirituality was associated with 11% more likely to achieve intermediate or ideal levels of physical activity and 36% more likely to not smoke.

The measures of religiosity and spirituality were taken in a single moment, so it is not known how they affected cardiovascular health over time.

“I was slightly surprised by the findings that the multiple dimensions of religiosity and spirituality were associated with improved cardiovascular health through multiple health behaviors that are extremely difficult to change, such as diet, exercise and smoking,” Brewer said.

The findings highlight the importance of culture-specific health efforts in promoting health equity, he said.

“The cultural relevance of interventions can increase their likelihood of influencing cardiovascular health and also the sustainability and maintenance of healthy lifestyle changes,” Brewer said. “Religiosity and spirituality can act as a stress buffer and have therapeutic purposes or support self-empowerment to practice healthy behaviors and seek preventative health services.”

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