Religion may help lower blood pressure in African-Americans

July 23, 2001

African-Americans who incorporate prayer, religion and God into their lives have lower blood pressure than found in less religious African-Americans, according to a new study.

Among African-Americans, those reporting higher levels of religious belief had lower blood pressure in the clinic setting, during workday activities and during sleep. This finding held true even when controlling for variables such as age and body mass index - two risk factors for high blood pressure.

"Our research suggest that religious coping may help buffer cardiovascular disease in African-Americans," says lead author Patrick R. Steffen, Ph.D., of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center.

The study is published in the August issue of Psychosomatic Medicine.

Steffen and his colleagues measured blood pressure of 155 people in a clinic and during typical workday activities and sleep, using an automated blood pressure monitor. They also measured "religious coping" by asking the subjects to rate the extent to which they put trust in God, seek God's help, try to find comfort in religion and "pray more than usual."

All of the study participants were 25 to 45 years old and employed. Seventy-eight were African-American and 77 were white. None of the participants used tobacco products, took cardiovascular medications or had blood pressure greater than 180/100 (High blood pressure is a consistent reading of 140/90).

In contrast to their findings in African-Americans, the researchers found that religious coping was not significantly related to blood pressure in whites. Whites reported engaging in less religious coping than did African-Americans. In other words, African-Americans were much more likely than whites to turn to prayer, religion and God to cope with daily life.

Approximately 50 million people in the United States have high blood pressure, a condition that greatly increases risk for heart disease, kidney failure and stroke. African-Americans are more likely than whites to have hypertension, to develop hypertension at an earlier age and to have hypertension-related diseases.

"This finding may have important implications, given the high prevalence of hypertension and hypertension-related diseases in that population," the researchers say.

The authors note this is the first known study to examine the relationship between religious coping and blood pressure using ambulatory blood pressure monitoring techniques. This type of monitoring, which allows blood pressure to be measured during daily activities and sleep, has been shown to be a stronger predictor of heart disease problems and death than standard clinic blood pressure assessments, they say.

Studies conducted solely within clinic settings have also found that religious coping activities, such as prayer, scripture study and seeking religious help and comfort, are associated with lower blood pressure. However, critiques of this type of research have charged that many studies have shown inconsistent effects between religion and blood pressure, and that many studies are undermined by methodological problems.
-end-
The research was supported by a grant from the National Center for Research Resources at the National Institutes of Health.

Psychosomatic Medicine is the official bimonthly peer-reviewed journal of the American Psychosomatic Society. For information about the journal, contact Joel E. Dimsdale, MD, at 619-543-5468. For copies of the article, contact the Center for the Advancement of Health at 202-387-2829 or e-mail press@cfah.org.

Contact:
Patrick Steffen
801-378-7757
patrick_steffen@byu.edu

Posted by the Center for the Advancement of Health http://www.cfah.org. For more research news and information, go to our special section devoted to health and behavior in the "Peer-Reviewed Journals" area of Eurekalert!, http://www.eurekalert.org/restricted/reporters/journals/cfah/. For information about the Center, call Ira Allen, iallen@cfah.org 202-387-2829.

Center for Advancing Health

Related Heart Disease Articles from Brightsurf:

Cellular pathway of genetic heart disease similar to neurodegenerative disease
Research on a genetic heart disease has uncovered a new and unexpected mechanism for heart failure.

Mechanism linking gum disease to heart disease, other inflammatory conditions discovered
The link between periodontal (gum) disease and other inflammatory conditions such as heart disease and diabetes has long been established, but the mechanism behind that association has, until now, remained a mystery.

New 'atlas' of human heart cells first step toward precision treatments for heart disease
Scientists have for the first time documented all of the different cell types and genes expressed in the healthy human heart, in research published in the journal Nature.

With a heavy heart: How men and women develop heart disease differently
A new study by researchers from McGill University has uncovered that minerals causing aortic heart valve blockage in men and women are different, a discovery that could change how heart disease is diagnosed and treated.

Heart-healthy diets are naturally low in dietary cholesterol and can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
Eating a heart-healthy dietary pattern rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, vegetable oils and nuts, which is also limits salt, red and processed meats, refined-carbohydrates and added sugars, is relatively low in dietary cholesterol and supports healthy levels of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol.

Pacemakers can improve heart function in patients with chemotherapy-induced heart disease
Research has shown that treating chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy with commercially available cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) delivered through a surgically implanted defibrillator or pacemaker can significantly improve patient outcomes.

Arsenic in drinking water may change heart structure raising risk of heart disease
Drinking water that is contaminated with arsenic may lead to thickening of the heart's main pumping chamber in young adults, according to a new study by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

New health calculator can help predict heart disease risk, estimate heart age
A new online health calculator can help people determine their risk of heart disease, as well as their heart age, accounting for sociodemographic factors such as ethnicity, sense of belonging and education, as well as health status and lifestyle behaviors.

Wide variation in rate of death between VA hospitals for patients with heart disease, heart failure
Death rates for veterans with ischemic heart disease and chronic heart failure varied widely across the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system from 2010 to 2014, which could suggest differences in the quality of cardiovascular health care provided by VA medical centers.

Heart failure: The Alzheimer's disease of the heart?
Similar to how protein clumps build up in the brain in people with some neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, protein clumps appear to accumulate in the diseased hearts of mice and people with heart failure, according to a team led by Johns Hopkins University researchers.

Read More: Heart Disease News and Heart Disease Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.