Study Shows Churches Can Help Reduce High Blood Pressure in Black Communities

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(Photo: NYU Langone Health/Mike Weymouth)Dr. Gbenga Ogedegbe (standing), director of the Division of Health and Behavior in the Department of Population Health, visits a church in Harlem, where he demonstrates the proper technique for taking blood pressure readings.

African-Americans who get comprehensive lifestyle advice in a motivational church environment from community-based health workers experience significant reductions in high blood pressure compared those who just get health education alone, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the NYU School of Medicine.

The study, published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, is the first and largest community-based study that evaluates the effect of comprehensive lifestyle intervention on reducing blood pressure among African-Americans in black churches.

“African-Americans have a significantly greater burden of high blood pressure and heart disease, and our findings prove that people with uncontrolled high blood pressure can, indeed, better manage their blood pressure through programs administered in places of worship,” Dr. Gbenga Ogedegbe, a professor of Population Health and Medicine at NYU School of Medicine and the study’s lead author, said in a release. “Vulnerable populations often have lower access to primary care. We need to reduce racial disparities in hypertension-related outcomes between blacks and whites. Additionally, we hope clergy and church leaders will take note of our findings and replicate these interventions in their churches.”

In 2013, NYU Langone Medical Center announced that

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