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Faith Linked to Lower Blood Pressure

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By Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News

May 23, 2006 — A spiritual disposition may provide a "buffer" against hypertension, according to the largest all African-American study on the relationship between blood pressure and an active faith.

Presented last week in New York City at the 21st Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Society of Hypertension, the study focused on the effects of religious activity on both diastolic and systolic blood pressure in more than 5,000 African Americans.

"Cardiovascular health disparities among African Americans are widely recognized, and hypertension is the most prominent risk factor in the development of cardiovascular disease in African Americans," said study author Dr. Sharon B. Wyatt, of the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

Known as Jackson Heart Study, the research involved 5,302 participants aged 35 to 85, two-thirds of whom were women.

The researchers asked participants how often they attended church, watched religious services and immersed themselves in meditation or private prayer.

Other questions addressed participants' interaction with the spiritual in their daily lives and whether they looked to a higher power during times of stress.

Those who professed greater religious participation were more likely to be classified as hypertensive. On average, they had higher body mass index scores and were less likely to take prescribed medications.

Nevertheless, the religiously active participants had significantly lower blood pressure, on average, than those who said religion played a small or no role in their lives.

Female gender, lower socio-economic status, increasing age and lower levels of cortisol -- a biological marker of stress -- were all associated with greater religious participation.

"Our findings show that the integration of religion and spirituality -- attending church and praying -- may buffer individuals exposed to stress and delay the deleterious effects of hypertension," Wyatt said.

The results are in agreement with previous studies suggesting religious activity has a physiological benefit. But while praying may help people stay healthy, being prayed for doesn't seem to have the same effect.

A recent study of coronary bypass surgery found that prayers offered by strangers did not improve patient outcomes. On the contrary, patients who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of post-operative complications.

Wyatt stressed that the Massachusetts study investigated prayer interventions on outcome, not the effects of religious activity and belief as a part of lifestyle.

According to Jeffery Dusek, an author of the heart surgery study, "the relaxation response improves health and well-being in individuals with hypertension and other cardiovascular conditions."

Dusek, who is associate research director of the of the Mind/Body Medical Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, told Discovery News that the "relaxation response" may be evoked when individuals pray for themselves.

"Depending on the individual, the repeated phrase may be secular or it may be a prayer," he added.

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it is well known among ayurvedic physicians that



for high BP a sure remedy is chanting the holy VISHNU SAHASRANAMA

for low BP a sure remedy is chanting the holy LALITA SAHASRANAMA


so why wait until you fall into either of these extremes...why not start chanting right away :)

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