One health, one life: serious problems with simple solutions

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Nicholas Karolak, a third-year student of Medical Rescue at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Collegium Medicum im. Ludwik Rydygier in Bydgoszcz, Poland. He is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


“The drama of life is that we age too quickly and wise too late.” – Benjamin Franklin – it is strange that the words of this great man from more than two centuries ago are still relevant and, above all, adequate to the general context of the health of civilization. Despite the perspective of a healthy and ideal life provided by access to the Internet, i.e. a collection of knowledge from around the world, we are still struggling with basic health problems. Where, then, is the point in the constant fight against diseases that, of course, we are able to heal, if we are not able to prevent them, which would be much more beneficial and healthier.

The World Health Organization (WHO) in December 2020 published the material “The top 10 causes of death” – it shows that 80% of deaths are caused by non-communicable diseases, which are 7 of the 10 most common causes of death in the overall classification. Heart disease ranks first, followed by diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and COPD.

The health of our circulatory system depends on the general condition of our body, both mentally and physically. It has already been emphasized many times that stress is one of the main factors negatively affecting the functioning of the circulatory system and is associated with further complications. Stressful situations, prolonged exposure or episodic nervous tension in private or professional life cause a significant increase in blood pressure, sometimes on a long-term scale. This causes what is known as “stress eating”, which later contributes to the detection of diabetes and obesity. At the same time, a person begins to resort to temporary blood pressure lowering agents, becoming addicted to them and developing  coping mechanisms with stress.

The time of the pandemic caused chronic stress in many people, not only those involved in the fight against the virus, but most of all regular residents who are not related to medicine, who live to this day in fear of losing a job and a roof over their heads. Lack of exercise induced by sedentary work is also a risk factor for the development of thrombotic diseases, which can have serious health consequences or, in the worst case, cause death.

Solving the above problems is both easy and difficult – it is about making changes in your everyday life. By reducing the amount of stress in everyday life or giving it targeted relief, for example through therapeutic and relaxation treatments or physical activity, we are able to significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The entire physiology of the human body is positively influenced by the introduction of physical activity, where even a daily half-hour walk improves the work of our heart. Physical activity and a balanced diet reduce the risk of obesity and potential injuries in people of all ages.

We are talking about serious problems that cause millions of deaths a year on a global scale, but if you break these problems down into parts, it turns out that there is no need to treat them, and prevention is much more important. Obesity, diabetes, failure of organs or whole systems are avoidable because they are much more often caused by each other (e.g. obesity and lack of exercise increase the risk of coronary embolism, coronary atherosclerosis; prolonged stress contributes to psychological problems such as anxiety states or depression;). By reducing at least one factor, we are one step closer to healthy longevity. It is not a question of experiencing and being able to enjoy this life to its fullest.

References:

1. The influence of stress on cardiovascular system – Przemysław Guzik; Katedra i Klinika Intensywnej Terapii Kardiologicznej Akademii Medycznej im. K. Marcinkowskiego w Poznaniu; Cardiovascular Forum;

2. The top 10 causes of death – World Health Organization; 9 December 2020;

3. The role of physical activity in the treatment of obesity – Krzysztof Wołoszyn, “Sport as a way of unity”

About the author

Nicholas Karolak is a third-year student of Medical Rescue at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Collegium Medicum im. Ludwik Rydygier in Bydgoszcz, Poland. He is a member of the Main Board of the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA) in Poland. He is the Coordinator of Student Counseling in the field of emergency medicine at the Student Health Clinic of the Young Universities for the Future of Europe (YUFE). He broadens his knowledge and skills in the field of emergency medicine, following the principle “It is better to prevent than to cure” by exploring, communicating and applying.

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