Abstract 3642: Fasting, a Novel Indicator of Religiosity, may Reduce the Risk of Coronary Artery Disease
Background: Coronary artery disease (CAD) is common and multifactorial. Reports in the 1970’s suggest that Latter-day Saints (LDS, or Mormons) in Utah have lower cardiac mortality than other Utahns and the US population. Due to the LDS proscription of tobacco use, this is expected. Whether other indicators of religiosity contribute to lower cardiac risk is unknown.
Methods: We evaluated whether LDS patients have a lower CAD risk and the potential sources of such. Patients (N1=4,629) were included if they enrolled in the Intermountain Heart Collaborative Study registry (1994 –2002), were found to have CAD (≥70% coronary stenosis) or no CAD (normal coronaries of <10% stenosis), and indicated their religious persuasion. A subsequent patient population (N2=515) was surveyed (2004 –2006) prior to coronary angiography for non-smoking indicators of religiosity (i.e., fasting [abstaining from food and drink for 2 consecutive meals], proscription of tea, coffee, and alcohol, weekly observance of a day of rest, any attendance of worship services, social support metrics, and charitable donation of time, goods, or money). Except as specified, all analyses adjusted for age, sex, smoking, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, and family history of early CAD.
Results: Among populations 1 (initial) and 2 (survey), respectively, age averaged 64±13 and 64±12 years, 64% and 67% were male, and 68% and 66% were LDS (about 70% of Utahns are LDS). In population 1, 61% of LDS and 66% of others had CAD (univariate: p=0.002, OR=0.81), but remained after full adjustment (p=0.009, OR=0.81). In population 2, fasting was associated with lower odds of CAD (59% vs. 67%, p=0.037, OR=0.61). Fasting-associated lower risk remained when diabetics were excluded (p=0.038, OR=0.58). Other associations included proscription of tea (p=0.015, OR=0.56), but all other indicators of religiosity were not significantly associated with CAD (but all were different between LDS and others).
Conclusions: Among LDS-associated indicators of religiosity, not only proscription of tobacco, but routine fasting and proscription of tea were associated with lower odds of CAD. The findings for fasting suggest an interesting new behavior change that may aid in reducing CAD risk and that deserves further study.