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According to the results of a study conducted by American scientists on the African-American population, spirituality would help improve their cardiovascular health. Their results were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association on September 6, 2022.
What if being a believer played on health and improved cardiovascular health in particular? In any case, this is demonstrated by the results of a study conducted by Dr. LaPrincess C. Brewer, a cardiologist and his colleagues at the Mayo Clinic, located in Minnesota, in the United States.
A cohort of more than 5,000 people
To reach this conclusion, the team of researchers submitted a health questionnaire to more than 5,000 black men and women in the Jackson region (the state of Mississippi). Specifically, they looked at the responses of nearly 2,900 people about their spiritual beliefs.
At the same time, they also assessed participants’ health using measures developed by the American Heart Association, called Life’s Simple 7 (LS7). These are 7 modifiable risk factors related to cardiovascular health: diet, weight, physical activity, blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and smoking. The score linked to these LS7s is therefore classified each time as being ideal, intermediate or mediocre.
Spirituality improves risk factors
Result: Researchers found that people who engaged in more religious activities or had a spiritual outlook tended to have better measures of overall cardiovascular health.
Those who regularly attended religious activities were more likely to have ideal or intermediate LS7 scores for diet, smoking and blood pressure.
Participants who prayed often were 12% more likely to have ideal or intermediate diet scores, and they were also 24% more likely to be smoke-free.
Finally, those who relied on religious beliefs to get through stressful events were at least 10% more likely to have ideal or intermediate scores for physical activity, diet, and smoking.
Religion as a “buffer” against stress
The principal author of this work, Dr. LaPrincess C. Brewer, admits to having been “slightly surprised by findings that multiple dimensions of religiosity and spirituality were associated with improved cardiovascular health across multiple health behaviors that are extremely difficult to change, such as diet, physical activity, and smoking“.
For her, “religion and spirituality can serve as a buffer against stress and have therapeutic purposes, for adopting healthy behaviors and seeking preventive health services”.
The scourge of cardiovascular disease
These findings are particularly important in a country like the United States, where cardiovascular disease, which affects the heart and blood vessels, is the leading cause of death. And where nearly half of African American adults suffer from cardiovascular disease, with a 30% higher risk of dying from this disease than the American population as a whole.