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Simple tip to boost heart health – and its not exercise or diet related

Triggered by a plaque build-up in the wall of the arteries that supply blood to the heart, coronary artery disease is one of the most common diseases in the world.

From medicines to surgery, there are many interventions that can help treat the potentially deadly condition.

However, a new study, presented at the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology in Amsterdam, suggests that laughter could also help.

The yet-to-be peer-reviewed research found that laughter therapy can increase the functional capacity of the cardiovascular system that includes the heart, lungs, arteries and veins.

The research team noticed reduction in inflammation and better signs of health among coronary artery disease patients who engaged in a course of this therapy.

READ MORE Five ‘early’ signs of coronary heart disease to spot – ‘Speak to your GP’

Coronary artery disease occurs when the heart’s coronary arteries struggle to supply the organ with enough blood, oxygen and nutrients.

Laughing sessions could cause the tissue inside a heart to expand, potentially leading to increased oxygen flow through the body.

Looking at 26 adults with an average age of 64 from August 2016 to December 2020, the research team measured the subjects’ oxygen uptake and the widening of their main artery when blood flow increased.

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Furthermore, they also measured levels of molecules in the patients’ bodies, indicative of inflammation such as interleukin (IL)-6, IL-10, tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, vascular cell adhesion molecule (VCAM) and intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM).

Thirteen of the study participants were assigned to a group that underwent laughter therapy by watching two self-selected TV comedy shows per week, while the other 13 served, who served as the control group, watched “neutral documentaries”.

The findings revealed an increase in the body’s peak oxygen uptake and improvements in tissue function as well as the body’s markers of inflammation.

The research is the first controlled clinical trial to evaluate the impact of rehabilitation using laughter therapy on patients with coronary artery disease.

Furthermore, the study backs previous research that suggested having a good chuckle makes the body release endorphins, which are hormones that can reduce stress and inflammation and help the heart and blood vessels relax.

Based on these new results, scientists believe laughter therapy may constitute an “effective form of cardiac rehabilitation in this patient population”.

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