• Saturday, September 30, 2023

HEALTH

Laughter therapy can help patients with heart disease, finds study

By: Kimberly Rodrigues

Laughter may benefit individuals with heart disease, a new study conducted in Brazil suggests.

A team of scientists embarked on a groundbreaking clinical trial, investigating whether engaging in “laughter therapy” could mitigate the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The study, involving adults diagnosed with coronary artery disease, revealed that indulging in comedy and experiencing laughter could have positive effects on heart health, The Times reported.

This includes a reduction in inflammation markers and an enhancement of the heart’s ability to circulate oxygen throughout the body.

The study, led by Professor Marco Saffi from the Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre, observed 26 participants with an average age of 64.

These individuals had been diagnosed with coronary artery disease, a condition arising from the accumulation of fatty substances in the heart’s blood vessels.

Half of the participants were instructed to watch comedy programmes for two hours per week, while the other half viewed serious documentaries on topics such as politics or environmental issues.

Over the 12-week duration of the study, the group engaging in laughter therapy exhibited a 10% increase in their VO2 max, indicating an improved capacity of the heart to pump oxygen.

They also experienced an improvement in flow-mediated dilation, which measures the arteries’ ability to expand.

Inflammatory biomarkers were measured through blood tests, and the laughter group displayed notable reductions, thereby lowering their susceptibility to heart attack or stroke.

Professor Saffi emphasised that laughter therapy enhances cardiovascular function by reducing artery thickening.
He noted the potential application of such therapy in healthcare systems like the NHS for individuals at risk of heart issues.

Saffi highlighted that laughter promotes the release of endorphins, known as “happy hormones,” which contribute to reduced inflammation and blood pressure.

Moreover, laughter was found to mitigate stress hormones like cortisol and lower adrenaline levels, both of which strain the heart.

The NHS has already initiated programmes such as “laughter yoga” within social-prescribing pilot initiatives to enhance overall well-being.

While the study holds promise, Professor James Leiper, an associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, acknowledged that more extensive research is needed to validate the therapeutic effects of laughter on coronary artery disease.

Nonetheless, the study underscores the potential benefits of a simple and widely accessible approach to promoting heart health.

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