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Black adults who participate consistently in religious activities or harbor deep spiritual beliefs are more likely to score higher in indicators connected to good heart health than those who don’t, according to a recent study.

The article published by the Journal of the American Heart Association said religious and spiritual participants had better scores for blood pressure, cholesterol and other factors that are known to influence cardiovascular health, CNN reported.

For example, going to a religious service was associated with a 15% higher likelihood of getting an “immediate” or “ideal” composite cardiovascular health score, which comprises eight measures, including diet, physical activity, sleep, and nicotine consumption.

“I was slightly surprised by the findings that multiple dimensions of religiosity and spirituality were associated with improved cardiovascular health across multiple health behaviors that are extremely challenging to change, such as diet, physical activity, and smoking,” said Dr. LaPrincess C. Brewer, a preventive cardiologist and assistant professor of medicine at Mayor Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who served as the lead on the study, CNN reported. “Our findings highlight the substantial role that culturally tailored health promotion initiatives and recommendations for lifestyle change may play in advancing health equity. The cultural relevance of interventions may increase their likelihood of influencing cardiovascular health and also the sustainability and maintenance of healthy lifestyle changes.”

Cardiovascular health among Blacks is worse than those of non-Hispanic whites. Plus, Blacks die at a higher rate due to poor heart health than non-Hispanic whites.

The study examined survey responses and health screenings from 2,967 Blacks between the ages of 21 and 84 living in the tri-county area of Jackson, Miss., a vicinity known for the strong religious beliefs of its residents. The analysis didn’t include participants with known heart disease, CNN reported.

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