Thursday January 23, 2020

Doctor Says, Smiling Can Improve Heart Health and Well-Being

Exercise and diet are keys to a healthier life, as many studies show, but here's something that may surprise you: A heart specialist also recommends smiling to improve your health.

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Smile
Nurses practice smiling with chopsticks in their mouths at a hospital in Handan, Hebei province, China, May 8, 2017. VOA

Exercise and diet are keys to a healthier life, as many studies show, but a heart specialist also recommends something more.

“One, two, three — twirl.”

Kendra Martin is taking photographs of three little girls in chiffon dresses. As they twirl, Martin tells them to smile.

“All right, big smiles!”

“I tell people to fake laugh, and they feel stupid doing it, but the result is theyʼre laughing, and it turns into a genuine smile,” Martin said.

And, in this case a giggle.

Big grins and giggles pay off on camera. The girls may be too young to have heart problems, but the smiles can promote heart health.

Brain rewiring

Dr. Anand Chockalingam is a heart specialist at the University of Missouri Health Care who tells his patients to smile.

“When we smile, the brain wiring gets altered. The chemicals that are released are more positive,” he said.

Chockalingam’s advice is supported by a number of studies. He says smiling is a first step in fighting stress and its ill health effects.

When you feel stressed, your body releases a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol.

Adrenaline increases your heart rate and blood pressure. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars in the bloodstream. If you are truly in danger, these hormones can help, but too much of these stress hormones too frequently can lead to heart disease and stroke.

FILE - People gather at a smoking area in Tokyo, April 7, 2017.
People gather at a smoking area in Tokyo, April 7, 2017. VOA
 

Bad habits arise

People who are stressed look for ways to cope. The American Heart Association says smoking, overeating or drinking alcohol as a way to reduce the stress can harm your heart and other organs.

“Once people smile, they are relaxing,” Chockalingam said. “This relaxation directly lowers blood pressure, improves sugar levels in the blood.”

Chockalingam tells his patients to smile 20 times an hour. It might seem like a lot, but it doesn’t involve drugs or have any negative side effects.

“If we are smiling, we are breaking that link between stress and health,” he said.

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Smiling is something Martin does to improve her photography.

“Waking up in the morning with a smile on my face, you know, itʼs gonna put everybody in a better mood,” she said.

And it provides a little boost to everyone’s heart health. (VOA)

Next Story

Women More Likely to Die Because of Heart Failure Than Men, Says Study

Men and women have different biologies and this results in different types of the same heart diseases

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Heart Failure
The researchers explain that many of the differences between woman and men when it comes to heart Failure are connected to the sex hormone, oestrogen. Pixabay

Researchers have found that more women than men die of heart failure and 50 per cent of the heart failure cases among women are caused by having a heart attack, which can be treated with modern methods.

According to the study, 50 per cent of women experiencing heart failure and the cause is generally related to having untreated high blood pressure levels over time, which leads to progressive stiffening of the heart. There is no effective treatment for this kind of heart failure yet, the study published in the journal Nature Medicine.

“Men and women have different biologies and this results in different types of the same heart diseases. It is about time to recognise these differences,” said study researcher Eva Gerdts from University of Bergen in Norway.

For the study, the researchers have compared common risk factors for heart diseases and how these affect men and women differently. They have, among other things, focused on the sex differences in the effect of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.

According to The World Health Organization (WHO), 11 per cent women and 15 per cent men are obese (BMI over 30 kg/ m2) globally. In Norway, one in five adults are obese.

“If we see this from a life span perspective, we can see that obesity increases with age, and that this trend is greater for women than men. Obesity increases the risk of having high blood pressure by a factor of three. This, in turn, increases the risk of heart disease,” Gerdts said.

According to the researchers, obesity also increases the risk of diabetes 2. A woman with diabetes has a much higher relative risk of heart complications and death than a man. “We know that women with diabetes 2 are usually obese and some of the fat is stored in the heart, which makes it more vulnerable for disease,” Gerdts added.

The researchers explain that many of the differences between woman and men when it comes to heart disease are connected to the sex hormone, oestrogen. The hormone prevents the formation of connective tissue in the heart, which makes it harder for the heart to pump blood. In men the effects are just the opposite.

Heart Failure
Researchers have found that more women than men die of heart failure and 50 per cent of the heart failure cases among women are caused by having a heart attack, which can be treated with modern methods. Pixabay

“We see that obese men store oestrogen in their fat cells in the abdomen, which has a bad effect on the heart,” Gerdts said. After menopause, women lose the oestrogen advantage. Their arteries become stiffer and more vulnerable for diseases, the study said.

“We think that this is part of the explanation for why high blood pressure seems to indicate higher risk of heart disease amongst women,” Gerdts said. In addition, smoking is also a part of the risk scenario for women.

ALSO READ: Cancer Drugs Can Be Used To Treat Pulmonary Diseases: Study

“For women, the effects of risk factors such as smoking, obesity and high blood pressure increase after menopause,” Gerdts concluded. (IANS)