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Laughter Not Only Feels Good, It's Good for the Heart

FRIDAY, April 1 (HealthDay News) -- Having a good laugh on April Fool's Day or any other day of the year helps relieve stress and benefits your blood vessels, an expert says.

"Laughter increases blood flow and improves the function of blood vessels. Reducing stress is especially beneficial for persons who have hypertension [high blood pressure]," Dr. Vivienne Halpern said in a Society for Vascular Surgery news release.

April is National Stress Awareness Month in the United States.

"Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones [cortisol, epinephrine, dopamine and growth hormone] and increases the level of health-enhancing hormones [endorphins and neurotransmitters]," Halpern explained. "This can result in a stronger immune system and fewer physical effects of stress."

Along with reducing stress and improving blood flow and blood vessel function, laughter helps relax muscles and creates a sense of well-being, she added.

High blood pressure is linked to stroke, a leading cause of death in the United States.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about coping with stress.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Society for Vascular Surgery, news release, March 28, 2011

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