Laughter can help reduce stress, improve everyone’s heart health

| February 25, 2011 | 0 Comments

Shari Lopatin
TriWest Healthcare Alliance



PHOENIX — When people laugh at a funny joke, they’re helping their hearts.

The body’s arteries — the blood vessels that carry oxygen-filled blood from the heart to the rest of the body — respond to laughter in a positive way, according to a Harvard Health Letter published in November 2010.

In fact, laughter could improve blood flow and long-term, overall health.

Studies are also showing how laughter not only improves mental well-being, but also makes hearts smile.

In 2000, the University of Maryland Medical Center published the first study stating that laughter may help prevent heart disease. Researchers found that people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh, in any situation, than people of the same age without heart disease.

Those with heart disease were actually less likely to recognize humor at all. They also tended to display more anger and hostility in general.

Psychology experts commonly agree that laughter and humor are great ways to help reduce stress. According to a 2005 report published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, stress can cause a person’s blood pressure to rise. High blood pressure is at least twice as likely to predict a death as smoking or high cholesterol.

All these reasons are why relieving stress on a regular basis is important to keeping one’s blood pressure down.

“Humor is absolutely a coping strategy for dealing with stress and adversity,” said Dr. Blake Chaffee, a psychologist and vice president of Integrated Health Care Services at TriWest Healthcare Alliance. “If you can see the humor in something, you can mitigate the stress and the negative effects it has on you.”

Chaffee added, when stress is not dealt with, you are at increased risk of heart disease, sleep problems, digestive problems, depression and obesity.

Learn more about heart-healthy habits at and

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Category: Community, Health

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