May 7, 2009
Those who love life live longer
They have fewer post-surgery complications and need fewer nights in the hospital after heart bypass surgery, a study shows
Loving life can help prolong it - when it comes to heart bypass surgery, that is. Having a deep reverence for life seems to have a positive influence on a patient's health after heart bypass surgery, according to a study reported last Friday at the American Geriatrics Society annual meeting in Chicago.
A handful of studies have linked religious factors, especially strong beliefs, to positive outcomes after bypass surgery, the researchers pointed out. Yet, little is known about the role of faith in relation to secular belief systems.
To investigate, two researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, conducted in-depth, face-to-face interviews with 177 patients two weeks before coronary artery bypass surgery. They then followed up with the patients after surgery.
'After controlling for medical variables, demographics and age, spirituality in secular contexts still stood out as having an independent direct effect on the outcome of the surgery," noted one of the researchers, Amy Ai.
Specifically, 'a deep sense of reverence" for life predicted fewer post-surgery complications and fewer nights in the hospital after surgery.
'It's a personal sense of spirituality, a sense of deep interconnectedness with something that has significant meaning in your life - like music, art, the natural environment or providing love and support to others; the kinds of things that provide a person with spiritual, uplifting feelings," Ai said.
Frequency of prayer was also associated with reduced post-operative complications, but neither attendance at religious services nor spiritual experiences that enhanced one's belief was related to surgery outcomes.