Your Spirituality Can Affect Your Health. Here's How
Sometimes faith leads a patient down a different path. When R., an energetic 72-year-old, was diagnosed with heart failure, I explained to her that we typically implant a defibrillator, which can detect an arrhythmia and shock the heart back into a normal rhythm. But R. thought her faith should decide “when it’s my time to go” and didn’t want a doctor or a device to interfere.
I think conversations about faith should happen before a patient is wheeled into the operating room. And a crisis isn’t the only time spirituality is relevant: Your beliefs can influence your decisions about diet, family planning, medication, and alternative treatments. I like to use the HOPE acronym developed by doctors at Brown University School of Medicine: The H prompts doctors to ask about sources of hope and strength, the O addresses connection to organized religion, the P touches on personal spiritual practices, and the E refers to the effects of spirituality on medical care. Don’t be afraid to bring up the topic yourself. Talking about spirituality with your doctor can help you find the kind of care that fits who you are, inside and out.
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