Dr Zara Quail MBChB (UCT)
Health News

Mental stress affects cardiovascular risk: Try laughing to reduce your risk

Researchers in Osaka, Japan have examined the affects of mental stress on their potential to cause heart disease. They have looked at how chronic stress causes dysfunction of the inner lining of the arteries (endothelium). Damage to the endothelium can lead to plaque formation in the arteries that results in cardiovascular disease like heart attacks and strokes. Stress hormones, like cortisol, released in excess due to chronic stress can contribute to this dysfunction. Other hormones like adrenaline, if they increase blood pressure, can add to the problem. Amongst the best prevention factors identified included mirthful laughter, humour orientation, and lifestyle modification. So the moral of the story, find ways to de-stress, and laugh more for a healthier, happier life.

Reference: Toda N, Nakanishi-Toda M. How mental stress affects endothelial function. PflugersArch. 2011 Dec;462(6):779-94. Epub 2011 Sep 23.