Spirituality Helps Control Hypertension
Study shows religion and spirituality may help to keep blood pressure under control.
People Who Engage in Religious Activities Have Lower Blood Pressure
According to data from Jackson Heart Study of African Americans, presented at 21st Annual Scientific Meeting of American Society of Hypertension
on May 18, 2006, religion and spirituality may help to keep blood pressure under control.
Participants in the study were more than 5,300 African-Americans who were otherwise at risk for having higher blood pressure, as they were heavier and had lower levels of medication adherence.
To quote the ASH's press release
, "The Jackson Heart Study followed 5,302 participants to evaluate the effects of religion and spirituality on both diastolic and systolic blood pressure. Religion and spirituality were assessed with several questionnaires that examined organized religious activities (church attendance, watching religious television), non-organized religious activities (private prayer, meditation), religious coping (integration of religious beliefs into decision-making during times of stress), and daily spiritual experiences (interaction with God)."
Participants with more religious activities had significantly lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings.
Two thirds of participants were women.
How Does Religion Protect Against Hypertension?
The exact mechanism is unknown, but researchers found lower levels of the plasma hormone cortisol in those who were more religious. Cortisol is an important stress hormone, and it is known to be involved in high blood pressure. The implication is that religion acts as a buffer against stress and thus elevated levels of blood pressure. Simply put, religious people have better ways to deal with stress than those who are not religious.
Will Doctors Start Prescribing Becoming Religious for Hypertension?
Most likely not. While this research is very interesting, the field is not studied enough to justify making recommendations for the general public.
If you are interested in deepening your spiritual life, here are a few links I recommend:
- BibleInfo.com - a great source of Bible answers, nicely organized on topics.
- Bible School
- excellent free resource from Amazing Facts.
- Bible Gateway - free access to various versions of the Bible.