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Can Laughter Prevent A Heart Attack?

According to recent research studies, laughing everyday can help prevent a heart attack.

During the past 40 years many studies have been done on different personality types and the correlation of increased risk of heart disease.  Those with increased anger and hostility have higher rates of heart disease.  Is it plausible that the opposite might be true — that people who laugh and have a positive outlook and good sense of humor have less heart disease?

Recently there has been increased research on laughter and a decrease in the risk of heart disease.

Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, who is a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement, points to studies performed by the University of Maryland.  The research focused on examining circulation in the blood vessels in two groups of subjects who watched different types of movies. One group watched stressful segments of the war movie “Saving Private Ryan,” while the others watched parts of a funny movie, “Something about Mary.”

Among those viewing “Saving Private Ryan,” blood vessel lining constricted and circulation decreased. For those watching the more upbeat movie, “Something about Mary,” their blood vessel lining dilated and circulation increased.

This study, which is the first to indicate that laughter may help prevent heart disease, found that people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared to people of the same age without heart disease.

Laughing appears to protect the heart.

Mental stress is associated with impairment of the endothelium, the protective barrier lining the blood vessels.  Blood vessel lining impairment can cause an inflammatory reaction that leads to fat and cholesterol build up in the coronary arteries.  Laughing improves the function of the blood vessels and increases blood flow and can protect against heart disease.  Laughter also decreases stress hormones and relaxes muscles.

Babies and children laugh frequently.  Studies show that children laugh on average about 300 times per day while adults only laugh about 17 times per day. Studies also show that most laughter comes from spending time in groups, specifically, with family and friends.  Another interesting fact is that most studies around the world show that an atmosphere of humor leads to better patient cures, less anesthesia time, less operating time, and shorter hospital stays.

Laughter dissipates distressing emotions.

For example, one can’t feel anxious, angry, or sad, when you’re laughing.  So the old adage that “laughter really is the best medicine” appears to be true.  The best advice for a healthy heart appears to be laugh heartily every day, eat right, and exercise on a regular basis.

Want to learn more?

Click here for more facts on laughter, heart disease and good health.

Helen Trowsdale, President of AA Care Services, is a nurse administrator with over 30 years of experience as a BSN, psychiatric nurse, and geriatric care manager with adults as well as pediatrics in hospitals, private duty home health care agencies, and residential home health care. Her team of caregivers are dedicated to serving their clients with home care in San Antonio, New Braunfels, and Austin; providing clients with consistent, quality care while minimizing the number of caregivers in the home. Learn more about AA Care Services.

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