STFM: Religiosity Is Not Linked to Reduced Hypertension

Bringing religion into all dealings of life associated with increased blood pressure

MONDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- Religious activities may not help to lower high blood pressure and may be associated with an increase in blood pressure, according to a study presented at the Annual Spring Conference of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, held from April 27 to May 1 in New Orleans.

Laura Heinrich, from the Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood, Ill., and colleagues investigated the association between self-reported hypertension and measures of religiosity. Data about employment, mental health, religiosity, social support, and lifestyle were collected from 158 African-American participants of the Maywood Community Health Project. The Duke University Religion Index was used to assess measures of intrinsic and extrinsic religiosity. Of the participants, 28.9 percent were on antihypertensive medication.

The investigators found that 58 percent of the participants attended church at least a few times a month, with 35 percent attending services at least once a week and 45 percent reporting being involved in private religious activities on a daily basis. Participants who reported trying to bring religion into all other dealings of their life had significantly more hypertension. There was no significant association between regular attendance of religious meetings -- or other measures of religiosity -- and self-reported hypertension.

"Those who reported that they tried to bring their religion into all dealings of life actually had significantly more hypertension," the authors write.

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