High Blood PressureReligion/ Spirituality

Effect of religious participation on blood pressure

A study of more than 5000 African Americans reveals that participants in religious activities are likely to have significantly lower blood pressure than those who do not. This, despite being more likely to be classified as hypertensive, having higher body mass index (BMI), and poor adherence to their medication regimen.

Known as the Jackson Heart Study, the results support the cardiovascular benefits of religion.

Several years ago, another study reported that African-Americans who incorporate prayer, religion, and God into their lives had lower blood pressure than less religious African-Americans. No such relationship was found among Caucasians in this study, although other trials have shown a similar effect in Caucasians. See the Discussion section of the article.

It’s possible that the activities associated with religion lead to less stress. In the Jackson Heart Study, those who participated in religious activities had lower blood levels of cortisol, an indicator of stress.

In the grand scheme of things, there are more important reasons to “get religion.” Lower blood pressure appears to be just one of many health-related benefits.

Illustration: Herencia Cristiana

8/9/06 19:24 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.