If you love a good laugh, scientists can now explain why. According to a recent study by the Maryland School of Medicine, laughter could literally save your life.
Researchers found that laughter expands the endothelium—the protective barrier lining our blood vessels—and increases blood flow. This process reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke.
When you laugh, blood flow and blood pressure increase. But when you stop laughing, your blood pressure drops back down to baseline, or what’s normal for you. In turn, your breathing deepens, sending more oxygenated blood through the body.
Conversely, stress causes your blood vessels to constrict and oxygen levels to drop.
“We know that mental stress is associated with impairment of the endothelium, which can cause a series of inflammatory reactions that lead to fat and cholesterol build-up in the coronary arteries and ultimately to a heart attack,” says Dr. Michael Miller, director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center. “The ability to laugh may have important implications in societies such as the U.S. where heart disease remains the number one killer.”
If you feel you’re at risk for heart disease, a heart policy from your association and AMBA might be worthwhile for the stress reduction alone. Learn more online or call 866-979-0497.
The phrase “serious as a heart attack” is a clue not to take life (or yourself) too seriously. Even if laughter doesn’t save your life, it’ll make it a lot more enjoyable.