High blood pressure (hypertension) is a serious problem in the African-American community: According to the American Heart Association, rates of hypertension in African Americans are among the highest in the world. In a study conducted at the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine, programs designed to lower blood pressure through lifestyle interventions that were presented within African-American church communities led to greater reductions in blood pressure overall than other educational programs.
The NYU researchers collected data from 373 African Americans with self-reported diagnoses of hypertension and uncontrolled blood pressure from 32 churches in New York City between 2010 to 2014. Study participants were divided into two groups and evaluated by researchers at six and nine months.
For three months, one group attended weekly 90-minute group sessions focusing on healthy lifestyle choices, as well as monthly motivational sessions delivered by health workers within the church community that included prayer, scripture, and faith-based health discussions. The other group (the controls) attended one session focusing on hypertension management and weekly health information sessions led by medical experts.
After six months, study participants in the first group averaged 5.8 mm Hg reductions in systolic blood pressure (top number) compared to the control group. At nine months, the first group had better blood pressure control, but this difference wasn’t statistically significant, according to the researchers.
Sourced from: Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality & Outcomes