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Healthy Heart Healthy You

Posted on February 21, 2020

Keep heart healthy with laughter says doctors

Siandhara Bonnet / News-Times
Take the Stage: Comedian Brad Nieder (above) describes his family

In a sea of red blazers, blouses and ties, comedian Brad Nieder brought a preventative medicine to those at the annual Healthy Heart, Healthy You event — laughter.

Healthy Heart, Healthy You is presented by the Medical Center of South Arkansas Healthy Woman Board and benefits the MCSA Auxiliary, which regularly volunteers at the hospitals and helps local nonprofits.

Nieder was a last-minute call for the event as the original speaker, cardiac comedian Frank King, may have been exposed to the coronavirus while overseas.

Nieder joked the only bug he brought with him was the comedy bug.

"Better the comedy bug than the coronavirus bug, am I right?" Nieder asked.

After a welcome, opening prayer and committee recognition by MCSA Director of Professional Outreach and Healthy Woman Liaison Alex Bennett, El Dorado Mayor Veronica Smith-Creer and MCSA Marketing Coordinator Lori DeWese, respectively, MCSA CEO Scott Street updated the audience on upcoming events for the hospital, including a ribbon cutting and alliance with Survival Flight — which will bring a helicopter to be housed on the hospital campus — groundbreaking on the new cancer center at the end of May and reinstating the University of Arkansas residency program.

Tessa Lee, physician assistant, followed Street and discussed ways to prevent and reduce risks of cardiovascular disease. She also said Arkansas is in the top 10 states with the highest rates of cardiovascular disease. She said southern states tend to have higher rates of risk factors of the disease, including obesity and high blood pressure. She said Union County's obesity rate is 41%.

Lee said some of the ways to prevent this is by quitting smoking and having a better, more plantbased diet, as well as moderate physical activity that gets your heart rate up.

She also said it's important to get enough sleep.

"Sleep also has benefits for your mood, brain function and can even help prevent weight gain," Lee said. "My final tip of the day to reduce cardiovascular disease is to laugh."

Lee said studies show negative emotions are linked with high rates of heart disease.

Once Dr. Anthony Abraham, chief of surgery at the hospital, warmed up the crowd and hit on the importance of laughter in medicine, it was Nieder's turn to take the stage.

He began by telling the crowd he was called and asked to share his philosophy that laughter is the best medicine.

"[Laughter] is relaxing, it's calming," he said. "We get an aerobic workout every time we laugh, too. Jogging for the innards."

Although he kept the mood light with jokes about dogs being able to detect bladder infections and cancers by smell via urine samples, Nieder talked seriously about preventative care and medicine.

He included a poem he wrote in honor of his favorite doctor, Dr. Seuss, with advice to choose foods like soy, nuts, beans, fruits and vegetables, and to stay light on the sweets, red meat, salt and fried things.

Nieder said during his time on stage that he would sell a DVD with the poem and donate half the proceeds to the auxiliary.