Tuesday October 22, 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

Virginia Doctor Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison for Illegally Prescribing Opioids

A Virginia doctor who prosecutors said ran his medical practice like an interstate drug distribution ring was sentenced Wednesday

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Virginia, Doctor, Prison
FILE - This Feb. 19, 2013, file photo, shows OxyContin pills arranged for a photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vermont. VOA

A Virginia doctor who prosecutors said ran his medical practice like an interstate drug distribution ring was sentenced Wednesday to 40 years in prison for illegally prescribing opioids.

Dr. Joel Smithers of Greensboro, North Carolina, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Abingdon.

Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Day Rottenborn said Judge James Jones sentenced Smithers to 40 years. He faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum of life.

Smithers was convicted in May of more than 800 counts of illegally distributing opioids, including oxycodone and oxymorphone that caused the death of a West Virginia woman.

Virginia, Doctor, Prison
This undated photo provided by the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail Authority shows Dr. Joel Smithers. VOA

Authorities say Smithers prescribed more than 500,000 doses of opioids to patients from Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio and Tennessee while based in Martinsville, Virginia, from 2015 to 2017.

Smithers, 36, a married father of five, testified that he was a caring doctor who was deceived by some of his patients.

Some patients remained fiercely loyal to him, testifying that they needed the powerful opioids he prescribed for them to cope with chronic pain.

Also Read- Typing Speeds of Mobile Handsets Now Catching up with Physical Keyboards

Smithers wrote in a court filing that he plans to appeal his convictions. (VOA)