Heart disease is the leading cause of death in New York City, and African Americans have a significantly greater burden of hypertension and heart conditions. New research led by Gbenga G. Ogedegbe, MD, MPH, professor in the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone, shows that community health workers using a faith-based intervention delivered in churches were able to significantly reduce and manage hypertension in black communities.
“When we pray, what do we do? We do a whole set of repetitive patterns. You are contemplating something, and all those processes lead to a reduction in pulse rate,” Dr. Ogedegbe tells The Wall Street Journal, noting that prayer—taken as a form of meditation—was an important part of the program.
Dr. Ogedegbe and his team found that after 6 months, study participants in the faith-based intervention group saw a net reduction of 5.8 millimeters of mercury in systolic blood pressure. According to Dr. Ogedegbe, if sustained over 4 to 5 years, this reduction can reduce heart attacks and strokes by at least 20 percent.
Read more from The Wall Street Journal (subscription required).