Laughter has been called “the best medicine” for many decades – and now there is scientific evidence.
A study from the Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre in Brazil showed that laughing regularly expands heart tissue, increasing the flow of oxygen around the body and reducing risk heart disease.
Laughter therapy was also shown to improve the health of those who already had heart disease.
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“Our study found that laughter therapy increases the functioning of the cardiovascular system,” said lead author, Professor Marco Saffi, when presenting the study's findings at the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology in Amsterdam this week.
The randomized study, published in ESC 365, involved a total of 26 patients with an average age of 63 years, 69% of whom were male.
All of them have previously been diagnosed with coronary artery disease, which occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries and can restrict blood flow to the heart.
Half of the patients watched two-hour comedy shows on television every week for three months, and the other half watched two “neutral documentaries.”
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At the end of the study period, the group watching the comedy shows had a 10% higher oxygen flux compared to the other group, indicating a stronger and healthier heart.
Comedy viewers also showed improved dilation of the arteries and reduced inflammation of the heart.
“In patients with coronary artery disease arrive at the hospital“They have many inflammatory biomarkers,” Saffi said in the presentation.
“Inflammation is a big part of the atherosclerosis process when plaque builds up in the arteries… This study found that laughter therapy is a good intervention that could help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of heart attack and stroke.”
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Regular laughter has also been shown to release endorphins and reduce stress levels, which can also have a positive impact on heart health, he noted.
“The best therapy for heart disease is lifestyle changes and risk factors.”
The researcher suggested that different types of laughter therapy could be used in hospitals and treatment plans to reduce the risk of heart disease in patients and potentially reduce drug dependency.
“People should try to do things that make them laugh at least twice a week,” he said.
This is the first randomized controlled trial to measure the effects of laughter therapy cardiac rehabilitation in patients with coronary artery disease, the study authors noted.
Alexandra L. Kharazi, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon at CVTS Medical Group in San Diego, Californiawas not involved in the research but noted that although the study was small, the results were encouraging.
“However, it shouldn't deviate from the fact that the best therapy for heart disease is a change in lifestyle and risk factors,” she told Fox News Digital.
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“In other words, it's great to make sure the day is filled with laughter, but you still need to get your blood pressure checked and.” cholesterol medication if you have coronary artery disease,” she continued.
No amount of laughter therapy can reverse severe coronary blockages, which often require stenting or open-heart surgery, Kharazi noted.
The main benefit she sees in this research is the potential role of laughter in recovery from heart surgery.
“From personal experience, people with a positive post-surgery attitude tend to have more energy to participate in activities, including physical therapy, which helps speed recovery after open-heart surgery,” the doctor said.
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dr Heather Sandison, a renowned expert on Alzheimer's disease and related dementia care, also reviewed the results of the study and found the results “exciting”.
“Although this study was small, it's consistent with other research we've seen showing that laughter improves stress hormone levels and immune function,” she told Fox News Digital.
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“It's exciting to see research on non-pharmaceutical interventions that are essentially risk-free and can reduce significant health problems such as cardiovascular disease,” she continued.
“This provides patients with a fun therapy to try at home in addition to the usual therapies.” drugs and interventions get them from your doctor.”