Religion or spirituality: linked to better cardiovascular health in African Americans

Dallas, USA – African-American adults who report significant religious activity or deep spiritual beliefs are more likely to have better lifestyle and good cardiovascular health as defined by the American Heart Association, according to a US study. The results were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association[1].

Religiosity, spirituality and 7 indicators of cardiovascular health

This study is the first to examine, among African Americans, the association of a comprehensive set of heart health behaviors with religious beliefs and spirituality, the statement said. [2]. And knowing that African Americans have poorer overall cardiovascular health than non-Hispanic whites, but “tend to be very religious,” said the study’s lead author, the Dr. Princess C. Brewerpreventive cardiologist and assistant professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Researchers analyzed responses assessing religiosity (strong religious feeling or belief, regardless of religion), spirituality, and the 7 cardiovascular health indicators of Life’s Simple from the American Heart Association (diet, physical activity, and nicotine exposure) and physiological factors (weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar) from surveys and health examinations of 2,967 African-American participants in the Jackson Heart Study.

The Jackson Heart Study is the largest community-based survey of cardiovascular disease in African American adults in the United States. On average, participants were 54 years old at study entry and 66% were female. The current study, launched in 1998, includes more than 5,000 adults between the ages of 21 and 84 who identify as African American and live in the tri-county area of ​​Jackson, Mississippi.

The religiosity/spirituality survey was conducted at a time point in the Jackson Heart Study, so participants’ cardiovascular health was not analyzed over time. Also, people who had known heart disease were not included in this analysis.

The researchers grouped the participants according to their religious behaviors (their level of participation in religious services/Bible study groups, private prayer and use of religious beliefs or practices to adapt to life situations difficult and stressful events – what the study calls religious coping) and their spirituality (belief in the existence of a supreme being, deity or God).

Participants who reported more religious activity or deeper spiritual beliefs were more likely to meet criteria for good cardiovascular health.

Greater frequency of participation in religious services or activities was associated with a 16% increase in the odds of reaching “intermediate” or “optimum” parameters for physical activity, 10% for diet, 50% for smoking, 12% for blood pressure and 15% for the composite heart health score.

Higher reported frequency of individual prayer was associated with a 12% increase in the likelihood of reaching intermediate or optimal parameters for eating and 24% for smoking.

Total spirituality was associated with an 11% increase in the odds of achieving intermediate and optimal levels of physical activity and a 36% increase in smoking.

“I was quite surprised by the results showing that multiple dimensions of religiosity and spirituality were associated with improved multiple health behaviors that are extremely difficult to change, such as diet, physical activity and smoking,” Dr. Brewer said.

The cardiologist added: “This is particularly important for socio-economically disadvantaged communities facing multiple challenges and stressors. Religiosity and spirituality can serve as a stress absorber and have therapeutic goals or support self-empowerment to practice healthy behaviors and seek preventive care. »

The links of interest of the authors are indicated in the article.

This study was funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, the American Heart Association-Amos Medical Faculty Development Program, the National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Religion or spirituality: linked to better cardiovascular health in African Americans