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Religion Doesn't Help Lower Blood Pressure, Study Suggests
Date:5/1/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

SATURDAY, April 30 (HealthDay News) -- Although faith in a higher power may bring you great comfort, leading a religious life won't help reduce high blood pressure, a small study suggests.

In fact, the study found that people who tried to incorporate religion into all aspects of their lives were the most likely to have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.

But, that doesn't mean that church attendance or a deep faith can cause high blood pressure.

"I don't think the take-home message from this study is that church is causing hypertension," said one of the study's authors, Amy Luke, an associate professor in the department of preventive medicine and epidemiology at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

"It may be that the people who attend church the most have a stronger social network, which may make them more aware of their health and more likely to have their blood pressure checked," Luke theorized. She added that more research needs to be done to better understand why being more religious was related to a greater incidence of high blood pressure in this study.

Results of the study, which was mainly conducted by medical students led by student Laura Heinrich, were scheduled to be presented Saturday at the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine meeting in New Orleans.

Previous research has suggested a link between religious activity and lower blood pressure levels. In addition, religious activity can likely reduce stress, hostility, depression, hopelessness and loneliness, which have been linked to raised blood pressure levels. Having a strong social network, as you might find in a community church, has also been linked to better health, according to the study's authors.

The new study was a subset of a larger study designed to assess how the economic downturn has affected people's health. It was conducted in an area of C
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