Spirituality is friendly to Wellbeing

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Dr KK Aggarwal

What you believe in may impact health and longevity. Spirituality and religion have been shown to have a positive association with well-being and better health outcomes.

Spirituality and the practice of religion have been associated with a slower progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Positive thinking results in almost 30% decrease in pain perception. People who regularly attend organized religious activities may live longer than those who do not participate. Regular participation in such activities reduces mortality rate by about 12% a year. Satsang is one way of acquiring spiritual well–being. Many scientific studies have shown that when mediation or chanting is done in groups it has more benefits than when done individually.

Spirituality can influence function of the immune system, which can be measured, like an increase in white blood cells.
Patients who undergo cardiac rehabilitation feel more confident and perceive greater improvements in their physical abilities if they keep strong faith. Increased levels of spirituality and religious faith may help substance abusers kick their habit.

Spirituality stimulates the relaxation response. It shifts one from sympathetic to parasympathetic mode, which is the relaxed state. It is healing and allows one to make better and correct, consciousness-based choices. People who are very religious or deeply spiritual have lower cortisol responses. Cortisol is a hormone released in the body in response to stress. When the body is relaxed, the heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate all go down, which decrease the body’s stress response. This is also why most of our temples are located in distant places. The silence of the spiritual atmosphere reduces the internal noise and helps us onward in our inner journey.

The Mantra to acquire spiritual health is to think positive and differently. It is very difficult to remove negative thoughts but it is very easy to cultivate positive thoughts. Persistent negative thoughts creates sympathetic over activity and leads to lifestyle disorders like blood pressure, acidity, depression, diabetes and heart blockages.

Spirituality is what brings you peace and safety. It can be achieved through God or Goddess, nature, a beautiful sunset, a meditation, Pranayama, religious meeting, chanting, mind body relaxation, etc. Spirituality is something that can help all the way from promoting wellness to helping with recovery.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are entirely my own).

AHA survey finds only 25% survivors feel confident in preventing another stroke

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Dr KK Aggarwal

Results from a new survey conducted by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) show that stroke survivors have low confidence in their ability to prevent another stroke.

The survey, which included 1,129 adult participants (survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals) nationwide, was conducted as part of the American Stroke Association’s Together to End Stroke® second stroke awareness campaign. The specific goals of the campaign include:

• Reducing stroke reoccurrence
• Reducing 30-day hospital readmission
• Increasing stroke patient knowledge of risk factors
• Educating about healthy lifestyle changes and medication adherence
• Educating about rehabilitation options and benefits

Exercising regularly was reported as the biggest challenge by Survivors (23%). The most common changes that survivors made to their lifestyle since their stroke are taking recommended medication (83%) and taking aspirin daily (63%). Only half of Survivors and Caregivers (49%) were aware of FAST. Both Survivors and Caregivers view high blood pressure as the most important factor putting someone at risk for a second stroke (58% and 59%, respectively).

Most strokes, including recurrent stroke are preventable. Physical activity, healthy eating, adherence to prescribed medications along with stroke rehabilitation can prevent another stroke. Educating patients about the risk factors and the necessary lifestyle changes enables patients to take control of their health. The need for regular check-ups and necessity of compliance to the prescribed treatment must also be explained to them. A doctor has to encourage his/her patient at every step and support them in their struggle to cope with the illness and not be judgement or critical of occasional slip ups.
This gives confidence to not only to the patient but also the caregivers so that they are better equipped to prevent a second stroke.

(Source: AHA News Release, October 12, 2017)

Explaining cardiac interventions: Using analogies to improve communication

Health Care, Medicine, Social Health Community Comments Off

Dr KK Aggarwal

The doctor-patient relationship is the foundation of practice of medicine. And, communication is the key factor that decides the interaction between the doctor and his/her patient and influences outcomes.

Doctors are bound, both ethically and legally, to provide adequate information to the patient so that the patient can participate in the decision making process and are in a position to take an ‘informed’ decision.

Any information given to the patient should be in a language, using words or using terms he/she can understand.

But do patients really comprehend the information that is given to them during the process of informed consent? The science of medicine is abound with complex concepts. Medical terminology uses technical words and jargon that are unfamiliar to the patient and difficult to understand. This may hinder the effectiveness of communication.

One way to improve communication and enhance understanding of medical information is by using analogies. The dictionary meaning of an analogy is a ‘resemblance between two situations, people or objects that are otherwise unlike, especially when used as a basis for explanation’.

Analogies are situations that are familiar to the patient and so easily understood. The information is also better retained. Hence, using analogies to explain complex medical terms or concepts can improve doctor-patient communication.

This is how I explain cardiac interventions to my patients. I take the example of traffic management, a situation familiar to all.

For any traffic management, following are the options:

• Placing traffic signals can be equated to dos and don’ts of lifestyle management.
• Posting a traffic inspector on the crossing. This can be equated with a clinical cardiologist.
• Diverting the traffic from main road to side roads. This can be equated to opening collaterals by drugs and/or exercise.
• Hiring an architect to make maps. This can be equated to an angiographer (cardiologist) doing angiography.
• Looking for the possibility of widening the roads. This can be equated to balloon angioplasty.
• To prevent encroachment of widened roads to place railings around the widened roads can be equated to placement of metallic stent.
• To prevent mishandling of railing, safety grills are put. This can be equated to drug-eluting stents.
• When the roads cannot be widened, flyovers are made, which can be equated to bypass surgery.
• Flyovers can be made by stopping the traffic. This can be equated to open heart bypass surgery.
• Flyovers can be made without disturbing the traffic, this can be equated to heart bypass surgery.
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this write up are entirely my own)

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