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A ‘belly laugh’ is as healthy as a good diet

Laughter may be as beneficial as a good diet and exercise for patients with heart disease, researchers say.

A “belly laugh” improves blood flow, a new study has found.
When volunteers watched funny segments from the film There’s Something About Mary their blood vessels expanded.

But when they were shown scenes of distress from Saving Private Ryan their blood vessels narrowed, constricting blood flow to the heart.

“The magnitude of change we saw after laughing was similar to the benefit we might see with aerobic exercise,” the Daily Express quoted Prof Michael Miller, of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, as saying.

“It is very possible that laughing on a regular basis may be useful to incorporate as part of an overall healthy lifestyle to prevent heart disease.

“In other words, eat your veggies, exercise and get a good belly laugh every day,” he added.
New anticoagulant pill cuts stroke deaths by 11 per cent

A large-scale trial has found that apixaban is superior to the standard drug warfarin for preventing stroke and systemic embolism in patients with atrial fibrillation.

 “These are important findings because they show that, when compared to warfarin, a very effective treatment to prevent stroke, apixaban resulted in an additional 21 per cent relative reduction in stroke or systemic embolism,” said Christopher B Granger, the study's lead author.

 “It also resulted in a 31 per cent relative reduction in major bleeding, as well as an 11 percent relative reduction in overall mortality,” added Granger. Apixaban is an oral direct factor Xa inhibitor that showed promise last year when trial findings presented at the European Society of Cardiology showed apixaban patients were 54 per cent less likely to have a stroke or blood clot than those who took aspirin.

Cholesterol-lowering statins cut risk of dying from infection

Cholesterol-lowering statins not only slashes death rates from heart disease and strokes, but also protect people from serious infections and respiratory disease, say researchers from researchers at Imperial College London.

The death rate among patients prescribed a statin in a major trial that ended in 2003 is still lower than those given a placebo, even though most participants in both groups have been taking statins ever since.

 In the lipid-lowering arm of the trial, over 10,000 patients in the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia with high blood pressure were randomly allocated either atorvastatin or placebo between 1998 and 2000.

In 2003, the trial was stopped early because the statin proved to be highly beneficial in preventing heart attacks and strokes. Since then, most participants from both groups have been taking statins.

The new analysis looked at the number and cause of deaths among the 4,605 participants in the ASCOT, the Anglo-Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes Trial, who are based in the UK. After 11 years’ follow-up, overall mortality is 14 per cent lower in the group originally assigned atorvastatin, due largely to fewer deaths from infection and respiratory illness.

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