Can a laugh every day keep a heart attack away? Possibly so. According to a recent study by cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, laughter, along with a good sense of humor, may help protect you against a heart attack.
In the study, researchers compared the humor responses of 300 people. Half of the participants had either suffered a heart attack or undergone coronary artery bypass surgery. The other half did not have heart disease. One questionnaire had a series of multiple-choice answers to find out how much or how little people laughed in certain situations, and the second one used true or false answers to measure anger and hostility.
The results of the study 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. They generally laughed less, even in positive situations, and they displayed more anger and hostility.
“The old saying that ‘laughter is the best medicine,’ seems to be true when it comes to protecting yourself from heart disease,” says Michael Miller, M.D., F.A.C.C., director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center. “We do not yet know why this is so, but we know that mental stress is associated with impairment of the endothelium which is the protective barrier that lines our blood vessels.”
“This can cause a series of inflammatory reactions that lead to cholesterol and fat build-up in the coronary arteries and in the end to a heart attack,” says Dr. Miller.
“The ability to laugh – either naturally or sometimes as a learned behavior may have important implications in modern societies such as the United States where heart disease is still the number 1 killer,” says Dr. Miller. “We know that not smoking, exercising and eating low fat foods will reduce the risk of heart disease. It now seems that regular, hearty laughter should also be added to the list.”
We suggest incorporating anything that will create laughter into your daily activities. Find out what makes you laugh and do more of it. Whether it be reading a humorous book, playing with kids or watching a funny movie. Be sure to eat right, exercise and laugh a few times daily.