A recent presentation by the American Society of Hypertension reports that a study of more than 5,300 Black Americans indicated that religion and spirituality may have a positive effect on blood pressure

Researchers found that people in the Jackson, Miss-based, heart study who were involved with, or participated in, religious activities had significantly lower blood pressure than people who did not. However, people involved in religious activities were more likely to have high blood pressure, higher body mass index scores, and lower levels of adherence to medications. The findings were presented at the American Society of Hypertension’s annual meeting, in New York City.

“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,” study author Sharon Wyatt, of the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, said in a prepared statement. “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. These practices can be useful for individuals to incorporate into their daily lives.”

Previous research has suggested that religion and spirituality may have a protective effect on health outcomes.

These findings were published in the HealthDay news service.