Will laughing too hard cause heart health problems?

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Submitted by Dr T on April 19, 2011 – 7:12am

Question: 
My mother had a minor heart attack over ten years ago. She has been on medication since then but overall she is quite healthy. Whenever we talk on the phone, we laugh so hard together. I came across an article saying that laughing hard will do harm to people who have heart disease. Is that true? Will laughing hard hurt my mom’s heart? Thank you for letting me know.
 

No, quite the contrary! Some “laughing” facts:

  • Aside from improving our moods, laughter reduces stress, help fight infection, and reduce pain.
  • The levels of two stress hormones, cortisol and epinephrine which suppress the body’s immune system, will actually drop after a dose of laughter.
  • Laughter causes positive changes in brain chemistry by releasing endorphins, and it brings more oxygen into the body with the deeper inhalations.

A link between laughter and healthy function of blood vessels was first reported in 2005 by researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center with the fact that laughter causes the dilatation of the inner lining of blood vessels, the endothelium, and increases blood flow. They theorized that Endorphin like compounds released by the hypothalamus in the brain activate the release of a chemical called nitric oxide, resulting in dilation of vessels. Other cardio protective properties of nitric oxide include reduction of inflammation and decreased platelet aggregation (and thus improve the blood flow to the heart).
Hope this helps,
Dr T
https://www.cardiachealth.org/

(From:

1):Impact of cinematic viewing on endothelial function. Miller M, Mangano C, Park Y, Goel R, Plotnick GD, Vogel RA.(2006). Heart.Feb;92(2):261-2)

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