Laughter Really Is Good for the Heart, Study Finds

2 min read

Aug. 28, 2023 -- A study found that people who engaged in “laughter therapy” had less inflammation and improved heart health.

The study split 26 adults with an average age of 64 and all diagnosed with coronary artery disease into two groups, The Guardian reported. One group watched two different hour-long comedies on television each week and the other that watched serious documentaries about topics like politics or the Amazon rainforest.

After 12 weeks, the participants who watched comedy showed a 10% improvement in a test that measured how much oxygen their hearts could pump around their bodies, The Guardian said.

“Our study found that laughter therapy increased the functional capacity of the cardiovascular system,” said the lead author, Prof Marco Saffi, of the Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre in Brazil, according to The Guardian. He presented the yet-to-be peer-reviewed finding at the European Society of Cardiology in Amsterdam, the world’s largest heart conference.

Participants also underwent blood testing that showed a reduction of inflammatory biomarkers, an indicator of how much plaque has built up in the blood vessels, for people who watched comedies compared to the other group.

“When patients with coronary artery disease arrive at hospital, they have a lot of inflammatory biomarkers,” Saffi said, according to The Guardian. “Inflammation is a huge part of the process of atherosclerosis, when plaque builds up in the arteries. 

“This study found that laughter therapy is a good intervention that could help reduce that inflammation and decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke.”

The new findings are in line with previous research that suggested having a good laughter session makes the body release endorphins, which are hormones that reduce stress and inflammation and help the heart and blood vessels relax, The Independent reported.

Saffi said laughter therapy could help people cut back on heart medications.