Laughter really is the best medicine—especially when it comes to heart disease.
People with heart problems who regularly laugh are less likely to suffer a stroke or heart attack. All their biomarkers improve, and these changes can be achieved in just three months of watching a comedy film twice a week, for instance.
Laughter reduces inflammation and also increases the heart’s capacity to pump oxygen, say researchers from Hospital de Clinicas de Porto Alegre in Brazil.
They tested the healing powers of laughter on a group of 26 people with an average age of 64 who all had coronary artery disease (CAD). For three months, half watched two hour-long comedy programmes every week, while the rest instead watched two serious documentaries.
By the end of the trial, the laughter group had a 10 percent improvement in their VO2 max, a test that measures the amount of oxygen being pumped around the body, and they also saw improvements in flow-mediated dilation tests, which measure the ability of arteries to expand. With CAD, arteries start to stiffen as they fill with plaque.
The researchers say the group also had ‘significant’ reductions in inflammatory biomarkers, suggesting plaque levels around the artery walls had also reduced.