Ask the Expert: Is Laughter the "Best Medicine" for Your Heart?
Can a laugh every day keep the heart attack away? Maybe so.
"The old saying that 'laughter is the best medicine,' definitely appears to be true when it comes to protecting your heart," says Michael Miller, M.., director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center. "We don't know yet why laughing protects the heart, but we know that mental stress is associated with impairment of the endothelium, our blood vessels protective barrier, which can cause a series of inflammatory reactions that leads to fat and ultimately to a heart attack."
About his recent study, Miller states that its most significant finding “was that people with heart disease responded less
humorously to everyday life events. They generally laughed less, even in positive situations, and they displayed more anger and hostility.
"The ability to laugh - either naturally or as learned behavior - may have important implications in societies where heart
disease remains the number one killer," says Miller. "We know that exercising, not smoking and eating foods low in saturated fat will reduce the risk of heart disease. Perhaps regular, hearty laughter should be added to the list."
Miller’ s conclusion leads to incorporate laughter into our daily activities, just as we do with other heart-healthy exercises, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator. "We could perhaps read something humorous or watch a funny video and try to find ways to take ourselves less seriously," Miller says. "The recommendation for a healthy heart may one day be exercise, eat right and laugh a few times a day."
(Available at: http://www.umm.edu/features/laughter.htm. Retrieved on: July, 2011. Adapted.)
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