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Laughter may be the best medicine for your heart

Researchers have discovered that laughter may indeed be the best medicine for your heart, literally. The study reveals that laughter has a positive impact on heart health by inducing the expansion of heart tissue and enhancing oxygen circulation throughout the body. 

These findings suggest that laughter therapy could be a promising intervention for addressing symptoms of heart disease, particularly in individuals with coronary artery disease.

Focus of the study 

Coronary artery disease is a condition that results from the accumulation of plaque within the arteries that supply blood to the heart. 

The study involved twenty-six participants, all diagnosed with coronary artery disease and with an average age of 64. 

Over a period of three months, the participants were divided into two groups to investigate the relationship between laughter and heart health. 

One group watched hour-long comedy programs twice a week, while the other group watched serious documentaries on topics such as politics and the Amazon rainforest.

What the researchers discovered 

Remarkably, at the end of the 12-week experiment, the group that watched comedy shows exhibited significant improvements in heart health. 

The functional capacity of their cardiovascular system was increased by 10 percent. This conclusion was reached following a test that measured the heart’s ability to pump oxygen throughout the body. 

Moreover, this group displayed improved arterial expansion. Blood tests measuring inflammatory biomarkers showed a significant reduction in plaque-related inflammation, indicating a decreased risk of heart attack or stroke.

Laughter therapy 

“When patients with coronary artery disease arrive at the hospital, they have a lot of inflammatory biomarkers. Inflammation is a huge part of the process of atherosclerosis, when plaque builds up in the arteries,” explained study lead author Professor Marco Saffi of Brazil’s Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre.

“This study found that laughter therapy is a good intervention that could help reduce that inflammation and decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke.”

“Laughter therapy could be implemented in institutions and health systems like the NHS for patients at risk of heart problems.”

“It does not have to be TV programs – people with heart disease could be invited to comedy evenings, or encouraged to enjoy fun evenings with friends and family. People should try to do things that make them laugh at least twice a week.”

Study implications 

Professor Saffi suggested that laughter therapy might provide an opportunity to reduce dependence on medication. However, he emphasized that additional research is needed to validate and expand upon these findings.

This study highlights the importance of exploring alternative therapies and lifestyle changes that can contribute to improved heart health and overall well-being. 

It serves as a reminder of the profound impact that positive emotions and laughter can have on our physical health, and encourages us to incorporate more joy and laughter into our lives.

More about the benefits of laughter 

Laughter therapy, also known as humor therapy, is a form of therapy that uses the natural physiological process of laughter to help relieve physical or emotional stresses or discomfort. 

It’s based on the belief that laughter is a powerful and positive form of communication that has physiological benefits.

Physiological benefits

Reduces stress

When you laugh, your body releases endorphins, which are natural stress relievers. It also reduces the level of stress hormones, which can help reduce anxiety and stress.

Improves cardiovascular health

 Laughter increases blood flow and improves the function of blood vessels, which can help prevent cardiovascular problems.

Boosts immune system

Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases the production of antibodies and activates immune cells, which helps boost your immune system.

Relieves pain

Laughing releases endorphins, which are natural painkillers.

Burns calories

One study found that laughing for 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn approximately 40 calories, which could be enough to lose three or four pounds over the course of a year.

Improves respiratory function

Laughter helps to clear out your lungs and increase the amount of oxygen in the blood, which can improve your respiratory function.

Emotional benefits of laughter

Laughter can help to improve your mood and make you feel happier. Sharing laughter with others can strengthen relationships and improve teamwork.

Furthermore, laughter boosts cognitive function and creativity. It also helps to create a positive mental state to enhance coping skills in difficult situations.

Laughter therapy is used in many hospitals and rehabilitation centers as it has been found to speed up recovery and improve mental health. It is also commonly used in senior centers as it has been shown to improve cognitive function and mental well-being.

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