Plan A–Lowering Inflammation Lengthens Life
It is well-documented that stress kills–happiness heals
Posted Dec 27, 2020 | Reviewed by Hara Estroff Marano
The COVID-19 virus is a member of the Corona virus family that usually just causes the common cold. The problem is that we now have a strain that is potentially fatal. However, there are some strong hints of how to survive it, and it revolves around first learning to thrive.
Roadmap to a solution
What are the clues? Over 90% of people who have died of COVID-19 have some other chronic medical condition(s). (1) The common perception is that in this scenario, the body simply gets overwhelmed. The pre-existing situation is unsolvable and the outcome is inevitable. This idea could not be farther from the truth.
All the chronic conditions are associated with elevated inflammatory markers from the body responding to threats, whether physiological or psychological. A major mediator of this response is the immune system. Mental threats are more problematic than physical threats in that you cannot escape disturbing thoughts and emotions, and repressing them is even worse. As a result, every human being is exposed to some level of elevated stress hormones and inflammation.
Many people have learned to process threat in a way that causes little damage. However, many, if not most, of us have not been taught the necessary skills and therefore are exposed to sustained elevations of inflammatory cells. It is the essence of chronic disease. In 2014, over 150 million Americans suffered from at least one chronic disease with annual cost of 3.7 trillion dollars—almost 20% of the gross domestic product. (2)
Cardiovascular disease, peripheral vascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, autoimmune disorders, obesity, adult-onset diabetes, anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder—all are chronic conditions connected to sustained inflammatory and metabolic destruction of tissues. It is all the same process with different clinical manifestations, and many people suffer from multiple illnesses.
Plan A–Lowering Inflammation Lengthens Life
This document, Plan A, presents 12 categories of interventions that will lower your levels of inflammation. Included are such measures as ways to understand and treat anxiety, employ expressive writing, deploy calming techniques, get adequate sleep, address anger, address family issues, examine your nutrition, maintain an exercise regimen, stay on top of medical problems, play, give back, and regain your life vision.
If most severe cases of COVID are connected with chronic medical conditions, then address them. By starting with lower levels of inflammation, there is a better chance of staying below the critical threshold where the inflammatory process spins out of control, there is diffuse damage to many different organs, and the lungs fill up with fluid.
This plan was assembled by a group of physicians and scientists who feel strongly that this approach will have an impact in lowering the severity of this deadly disease. There are now multiple professionals advocating a similar approach. One group looked at it from using preventative medications, but it can be achieved with these other means.
Happiness is a learned skill, and it is well-documented that those who understand how to experience rich meaningful relationships and keep life in perspective, live longer with a better quality of life. Dealing with COVID-19 requires the same approach as dealing with chronic disease–lower the levels of threat and inflammation and create safety. Obviously, events occur at a much faster rate with COVID–19 than with chronic disease states.
Join us in this grass roots movement
Please circulate Plan A to as many of your friends, family, and colleagues as possible, and also encourage them to pass it along to their circles. It also represents a template for the future of healthcare moving from an illness to a wellness model. It boils down to means of creating safety instead of being at the mercy of threats. Most chronic mental and physical disease is preventable and some if it even reversible. Plan A represents a major effort to change both the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic and also the manner in which we approach health care and chronic disease.
Also inherent in this approach is each person taking full responsibility for his or her role in their health. It is easy to look at others or society for solutions, but they truly exist only in each one of us. It is possible with a collective effort of taking personal responsibility for every aspect of our lives to change the course of this relentless pandemic, the nature of health care, and create societal changes that will enhance the quality of our lives and those of future generations. We each have to take action, as the burden of chronic disease is crushing us. (2)
1. Williamson EL, et al. OpenSafely: factors associated with COVID-19 death in 17 million patients. Nature (2020); https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2521-4.
2. O’Neill Hayes, Tara and Serena Gillian. Chronic disease in the United States: A worsening health and economic crisis. Americanactionforum.org; September 10th, 2020.