Laughter Yoga for Heart Disease and Hypertension
Modern day stressors, worries and lifestyle changes have increased the rate of heart diseases which are a major cause of death and despair. Even as doctors and patients try to minimize the risk factors, scientific studies have proved that laughter is the simplest answer to a healthy heart. An extended hearty laughter is one of the fastest ways to accelerate heart rate and provides an excellent cardiovascular workout and heart massage. Dr. Michael Miller, a leading heart researcher and Associate Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine Director, Center for Preventive Cardiology at University of Maryland Medical Center discovered that laughter expands the blood vessels promoting circulation and reducing blood pressure.
Scientific studies have proved that few days of laughter exercises and deep breathing lowers blood pressure thus reducing the risk of a heart attack. It improves circulation and increases the supply of oxygen. In experiments, it has been proved that there is a drop of 10-20 mm pressure after a 10 minute laughter session. It may not be a cure, but it helps to reduce the frequency of medication and at times even stop it completely. Having too much cholesterol in the blood can lead to the hardening and narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis) in the major vascular systems. A daily dose of laughter opens the arteries and allows the blood to flow freely to all parts of the body thus preventing a cardiac failure.
Linda LeVier USA: On July 7, 2007, I celebrated my 67th birthday and three months of my heart transplant. I had a great party with friends and family who supported me through my new heart adventure! Did I mention I received my new heart on April Fools Day? It fits my personality perfectly ha ha!
My medical situation suddenly changed in a few days in 2004. I went from no symptoms of heart disease to a heart transplant. I had a clean bill of health after my annual physical, and I asked if I could have even have a treadmill stress test just to have a more complete health picture. “Why? You are my healthiest patient”, I was told. But, the test was done a few days later and I was told to stay in the hospital overnight. The test information led to more tests. It was determined that I had already had a silent heart attack. Three or more arteries were blocked 70, 80, or 90 per cent.
Bypass surgery was scheduled. One of the bypasses was hyper clotted, so they did another one. Very soon all the bypasses shut down due to a reverse reaction to one of the medicines they had to use. I was sent back to have 7 stents put in and was in the ICU for nine and a half weeks with one complication after another. My son was told that I may spend the rest of my life going from bed to chair and back, but I’m relieved that he did not tell me.
After a year of slow recovery, I knew I needed to do more than walking and eating correctly. I needed medicine with no bad side effects for my spirit. I heard something about laughter groups and soon went to join a Laughter Club. After one session, I knew I had found what I was looking for. It was then Laughter Yoga entered my life. Laughing hard for health is different from intermittent laughing at a joke or a funny action. Seriously laughing quickly moved to silliness and playfulness for me.
I was a person who had a weak self esteem which led to a lot of repressed hostility. I needed to laugh for the sheer JOY of it. No matter how I felt going into a Laughter Yoga session, I always came out with a lighter spirit and feeling of self confidence which showed in my new interactions with people. My sense of joy led to less notice of pain, more regular exercising and an influx of new friends who have positive outlooks and often laugh at themselves and funny situations.
While my heart continued to weaken, my spirit grew stronger. With CHF I had terrible days with fluid buildup. On the day that I meekly asked my doctor if I would be eligible for a Handicapped parking placard, he gently told me that I would benefit from having a heart transplant. “What? You must think I’m really sick. That hadn’t occurred to me”.
I had so many complications in 2004, I looked forward to the transplant with nervousness, excitement and complete confidence in my transplant team. The first outing after leaving the hospital was to go with my daughter and grandchildren to my laughter session.
I became a Laughter Yoga leader in 2009. Right away I got a vision of what I would do with my Laughter Yoga training. I started a nonprofit organization, working with groups of volunteers to become an extended family to the healthcare facility of their choice. My project is in honor of my heart donor and her family. My doctors say I did so well because of my “Gratitude Attitude”. I say that came from my experience with Laughter Yoga.