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Heart failure, a condition where your heart can’t pump blood well, can be a devastating diagnosis. It completely changes your life and can lead to depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, the CDC reports heart failure affects over 6 million Americans. There is always hope, though, and a recent study has brought hope into the spotlight.
The Journal of American College of Cardiology (JACC) study suggests spirituality can improve heart failure patients' lives. The study explored heart failure patients’ quality of life and spirituality associations and suggested that spirituality can prevent future hospital visits.
What is spirituality?
Researchers are deciding the best measure of spirituality, which can be hard to define. It’s associated with the “why” of life; why are we here? What purpose? Is there something beyond the physical aspect of human existence?
Liena Apsukrapsa, Chaplain and Spiritual Director at Good Samaritan Medical Center, encourages spirituality in action. “We are created to be physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual human beings,” said Liena. “To neglect one of these elements is to deny oneself a wholesome human experience.”
How can spirituality help when dealing with illness?
Spirituality can be foundational when facing chronic diseases. Several studies indicate spirituality is related to psychological well-being and can be managed by health-related behaviors.
Research also suggests that spirituality improves healing times and coping skills. There are a few possible reasons for this, but a simple answer is the lack of stress. Patients who feel connected to a higher power feel less grief and uncertainty.
Heart failure patients with spiritual well-being feel connected to this greater meaning, even when faced with severe symptoms. This peace translates to a better quality of life. And according to the JACC study, these patients show lower levels of anxiety and depression.
“If our physical being is our only focus, we get trapped in its limitedness and naturally develop a sense of depression,” said Liena. “Spirituality gives entry into a spacious and limitless way of living.”
If you’re wondering how spirituality can affect you after a heart failure diagnosis, reach out to an Intermountain Healthcare chaplain. Chaplains like Liena Apsukrapsa empower people to lean into their spirituality and encourage more profound connections. You might be surprised by how your quality of life improves.