A Remedy for the Leading Causes of Death During the Pandemic

Man having a heart attack.

Heart disease remained the number one cause of death in the U.S. during the pandemic. (Image: Suriyaphoto via Dreamstime)

A research paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) revealed: “In 2020, heart disease and cancer were the leading causes of death in the U.S., accounting for 1.29 million deaths, followed by COVID-19, accounting for 350,000 deaths.”

“From March 2020 to October 2021, heart disease (20.1%), cancer (17.5%), COVID-19 (12.2%), accidents (6.2%), and stroke (4.7%) were the most common causes of death in the U.S.”

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Many might have thought that the number one cause of death during that time period was COVID-19. Then why did so many die of heart disease?

Heart disease and COVID-19

The pandemic changed our way of life. Lack of physical activity and confinement to one’s home can lead to poorer health and a greater risk of heart disease.

Deaths from heart disease increased from lack of physical activity and confinement to one's home during the lockdown.
Lack of physical activity and confinement to one’s home during the lockdown contributed to a greater risk of heart disease. (Image: Fizkes via Dreamstime)

There are also factors directly related to the virus, including:

  • COVID-19 virus directly damages the heart tissue causing myocarditis (heart inflammation).
  • The impact of lung infections on blood flow can put pressure on the heart.
  • COVID-19 virus can cause cytokine storms throughout the body. The cytokine molecules promote inflammation, which can affect vital organs, including the cardiovascular system.

A study published in the Indian Heart Journal summarizes several major causes of sudden cardiac death caused by COVID-19. Among them, the most common causes are acute myocarditis and pericarditis (irritation and swelling of the tissue surrounding the heart) followed by acute coronary syndrome and hypoxia (lack of oxygen in body tissues), then coagulation disorders, systemic inflammatory response syndrome, and arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).

COVID-19 vaccination also increased the risk of heart disease. A study from more than 40 medical institutions in the United States published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in August 2021 found that after 2 million people were vaccinated in 2021, the number of acute cases of myocarditis and pericarditis increased significantly. Another article from January 2022 reviewing case reports of myocarditis within 7 days of vaccination reached the same conclusion.

Cancer, the second leading cause of death

Cancer didn’t disappear during the pandemic. The estimated number of cancer deaths in the U.S. was 602,350 in 2020 and 608,570 in 2021.

Many people may have died from preventable cancers because they put off getting vital screenings, diagnostics, and treatments.

Moreover, the long-term lockdown during the pandemic caused anxiety and depression, which inhibits the function of the body’s immune cells in turn suppressing the immune system.

Anxiety and depression inhibit the function of the body’s immune cells, suppressing the immune system.
Anxiety and depression inhibit the function of the body’s immune cells, suppressing the immune system. (Image: Artur Szczybylo via Dreamstime)

Reducing the risk of death from heart disease and cancer

Since the start of the pandemic, people have been in a state of nervousness, anxiety, and stress, which affects the immune system. People who are prone to anxiety are more likely to get heart disease.

The expression “inner peace” was often mentioned in the movie Kung Fu Panda. An increasing number of studies have found that a state of inner peace is closely related to our health.

Maintaining inner peace is beneficial to the physical condition of cancer patients. A study found that when cancer survivors reduced their anxiety levels, their physical health also improved significantly.

So how do you obtain “inner peace?”

This can be accomplished by paying more attention to spiritual growth, taking material interests lightly, and letting go of negative emotions amid life’s challenges.

One can find inner peace by paying more attention to spiritual growth, taking material interests lightly, and letting go of negative emotions.
One can find inner peace by paying more attention to spiritual growth, taking material interests lightly, and letting go of negative emotions. (Image: Studio Grand Web via Dreamstime)

People who value material things and can’t let go of their negative emotions are more likely to fight with others and find that calming themselves is a difficult thing to do.

There is another term called “spirituality.” According to an article published in the journal, BMC Health Services Research, “spirituality is the personal quest for understanding answers to ultimate questions about life, about meaning and about relationship to the sacred or transcendent.”

Inner peace and spiritual growth take practice and require the ongoing restraint of one’s mind to achieve, but the rewards are well worth the effort.

Translated by Elaine

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