Monday March 18, 2019

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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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.

Also Read:Attention! Signs You Should Not Ignore While Travelling Linked To CVD

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

Study Finds, Statins Can Prevent Neurological Disorder Development

For the study, the team of researchers searched genetic datasets of around 25 million people to find risk factors for developing ALS.

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Neurological disorder
Statins, if clinically tested, could be used to prevent the development of MND, the researchers said. Pixabay

Besides treating heart disease, cholesterol-lowering drugs statins can also be used to prevent the development of a neurodegenerative disease, finds a study.

According to the study by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) researchers, high cholesterol has been found to be a possible risk factor for the development of motor neurone disease (MND) — a non-curable disease that affects the brain and nerves and is also known as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The symptoms include weakness, indistinct speech, difficulty in swallowing food, muscle cramps and more. In some cases, people experienced changes in their thinking and behaviour.

“We saw that higher levels of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) were causally linked with a greater risk of the disease,” said Alastair Noyce from the varsity.

Heart disease, Neurological
For the study, published in journal “Annals of Neurology”, the team of researchers searched genetic datasets of around 25 million people to find risk factors for developing ALS. Pixabay

“We have well-established drugs that can lower cholesterol and we should look into whether they could protect against this terrible disease, which currently has no cure,” Noyce added.

For the study, published in journal “Annals of Neurology”, the team of researchers searched genetic datasets of around 25 million people to find risk factors for developing ALS.

In addition to the causal effect of high cholesterol, they also found genetic associations with smoking behaviour and lower levels of educational achievement, and an increased risk of ALS.

While low levels of exercise were associated with a protective effect, more aggressive exercise was associated with increased risk.

Neurological disorder, statins
Cholesterol-lowering drugs statins can also be used to prevent the development of a neurodegenerative disease. VOA

However, of these findings, only high cholesterol emerged as a clear modifiable factor that could be targeted to reduce the risk of MND.

ALSO READ: Study Claims, There Should Be Treatment Options Given for Miscarriage

Statins, if clinically tested, could be used to prevent the development of MND, the researchers said.

“The next steps will include studying whether lowering levels of cholesterol might have a protective effect against MND, and potentially evaluating the use of cholesterol-modifying drugs in people at risk of MND,” Noyce noted. (IANS)