(WZZM) - We all lose our temper sometimes, but if you do, you're putting your heart at risk.
A new study from Harvard found that angry outbursts make you almost five times more likely to have a heart attack and three times more likely to have a stroke. That risk lingers up to two hours after you get angry, even if you hold it inside.
In moments of anger, your brain triggers the release of adrenaline into the blood. That causes blood vessels to constrict, raising your blood pressure and making it harder for your heart to pump. The effects are worse for people who already have heart problems or even diabetes.
Doctors say In the heat of the moment, cool off by taking deep breaths, counting to ten or better yet, if you can, laugh away the anger.
Laughter has the opposite effect on your body as anger. It can help your heart and even help fight cancer.
"If we are in a situation that we can find ourselves laughing, take advantage of it. It's such good medicine," said Dr. Mustapha, an Interventional Cardiologist with Metro Health.
Studies show laughter stimulates the immune system to produce endorphins, which can help us fight everything from cancer to heart disease.
"Endorphin is a phenomenal compound," said Dr. Mustapha. "It is what really sustains us and we don't have enough of it in when we are depressed or stressed."
Ten minutes of laughing is the equivalent of 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise, but the benefits can last much longer.
Local stand-up comedian Brian B. knows the importance of laughter to anyone battling cancer. He has stage three squamous cell carcinoma or throat cancer. He works his experience into his weekly stand-up routine at the Sunday Night Funnies in Grand Rapids.
"When I was diagnosed with it, I thought what great material for me," he said. "Humor is an important part about me keeping my sanity."
Laughing can sometimes feel like the hardest thing to do, but when you consider the health benefits, it's something Dr. Mustapha believes should be prescribed every day.
"All along we would say exercise and eat healthy, but now I feel comfortable saying to our patients exercise, eat healthy and laugh once a day," he said.
LaugFest lasts until March 16th. To learn more about the comedy festival and see a schedule of shows, click here.
Brian B. will host two LaughFest editions of Sunday Night Funnies. The first is Sunday, March 9th. For details of the show, click here.
Last year, he raised more than $3,000 for Gilda's Club Grand Rapids.