African Americans who frequently participate in religious activities or who hold deep spiritual beliefs are more likely to have better cardiovascular health. In a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers at the Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins screened almost 3,000 Black adults in Jackson, Mississippi, which is known to have a large percentage of residents who hold strong religious beliefs. They observed that more religious participants had better scores for blood pressure, cholesterol and other indicators known to influence cardiovascular health. Black adults generally have poorer cardiovascular health than White adults, with higher mortality rates for heart disease. While the study doesn’t show why religion appears to confer better heart health, it’s possible that religion requires discipline and the willingness to follow the advice of a leader. These qualities might make them more likely to stick to a healthy lifestyle and act on the advice of their doctor.
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