Could laughing more help prevent heart attacks? Could this no cost, no side effect action really be part of the preventative action needed to keep one free from heart disease?
A team from the University of Maryland Center for Preventive Cardiology has started to document some proof of this very thing. In fact, this study which is the first to show a connection between an active sense of humor and laughter and heart disease found that people with heart disease were 40% less likely to laugh compared to others of the same age that did not have heart disease.
The key professor of medicine involved in this study, Dr. Michael Miller. M.D. explained the connection of mental stress with problems in the protective barrier lining that lines the blood vessels. An inflammatory reaction leads to fat and cholesterol build-up in the coronary arteries. This is what leads to heart attacks.
This study looked at 300 people, one half with heart disease and the other half without heart disease. Questionnaires that looked at how often people laughed in certain situations as well as anger and hostility indexes were used. The study showed that those with heart disease didn’t laugh at everyday situations as often and often displayed more anger. Miller concluded that with heart disease being the number one killer of citizens, the ability to laugh may be one of the most important ways to decrease the disease.
Maybe someday the prescription for a healthy heart will include eating right, exercising and a good daily dose of laughter!
Author: Liz Smith, Family and Consumer Science Extension Educator, Ohio State University.