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Times of India
30 Aug 2011
By , Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi , India

Laughter Cuts Chances Of Cardiac Disease, Rage Ups Risk
Just chill to fight heart attack
Laughter is indeed the best medicine.
Scientists on Monday scientifically backed the age–old adage, “don’t worry, be happy”,reporting patients with cardiovascular disease, who suffer fits of anger could be vulnerable to recurrent heart attacks.

However, when people laughed their major blood vessels dilated, improving blood flow. This is a major marker for a reduced risk of cardiac events. The research carried out by the Institute of Clinical Physiology in Pisa, Italy, and presented at the ongoing European Society of Cardiology meeting in Paris was carried out for over 10 years.

As many as 78.5% of patients with cardiovascular disease, who did not indicate an angry personality profile, had “infarction free–survival” compared to 57.4% patients, who exhibited anger profiles, said Franco Bonaguidi from the Institute.

Michael Miller from the University of Maryland in Baltimore, in a separate study, said when people laughed their major blood vessels dilated, allowing for easier blood flow.

Both researchers confirmed how psychological wellness directly influences cardiac–related outcomes. And the difference of constriction of arteries could be as much as 30% to 50% in diameter between the two categories of people.

Reacting to the study, chairman of the Escorts Heart Research Institute Dr Ashok Seth, said, “Numerous Bollywood movies have shown how a bout of anger leads to an actor’s heart attack. It has now been scientifically proven. Anger releases adrenergic and rasoconstrictor hormones, which decrease blood supply to the heart and also increases blood clotting.”

He added, “Happy people, on the other hand, have an attitude of mental relaxation, which is already been shown to dilate arteries.”

For the anger study, 228 patients were recruited — 200 of whom were men. Over the course of the study, 51 people suffered coronary events — 28 deaths and 23 heart attacks.

Based on a multivariate analysis, a high score on anger and stress–related disturbances increased the risk of new cardiac events, Bonaguidi said.

“Anger is a primitive emotion which cannot be switched off at will,” Bonaguidi explained. “It can have a constructive function when it serves to overcome obstacles and reach certain objectives. He added anger can trigger unfavourable haemodynamic, neural and endocrine changes through excessive sympathetic activation, and can chronically contribute to self–destructive life habits, food and alcoholic addiction,” he explained. In his studies, Miller found that the endothelium of blood vessels responds favourably among patients who are able to laugh.

His data indicated that when people laugh, their brachial arteries dilate as measured by the brachial artery reactivity test (BART). When faced with mental stress, those arteries constrict.

Scientists say emotional stress and anger trigger the release of stress hormone cortisol in the body. Small releases of cortisol can give the body a quick burst of energy. However, higher and more prolonged increases can led to a host of negative effects.

It can create a blood sugar imbalance; decrease bone density, suppress the body’s immune response and make it susceptible to chronic inflammation; stifle thyroid function, slow down metabolism and impair brain’s thinking ability and increase blood pressure.

Anger also impedes circulation. Lack of oxygen can cause severe chest pains. Uncontrollable anger can trigger the bursting of a brain artery, resulting in a stroke. Tight neck and head muscles can cause tension headaches, migraines or trigger insomnia.

Survival of The Heartiest
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