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'Defeating Stress': Doctor Says Yoga, Meditation -- And Even Faking A Smile -- Can Help

LOS ANGELES ( — As the saying goes, laughter is the best medicine.

In fact, one cardiologist working at UC Irvine Medical Center has incorporated that concept into her practice.

According to Dr. Shaista Malik, stress can take a huge toll on the human body, especially the heart.

"There are actually 1,400 biochemical reactions that go on in the body due to stress," Malik explained. "Over time, chronic stress means accelerated aging."

Sometimes, taking powerful medications or undergoing surgeries that are intended to control blood pressure and chest pain might not be enough to help patients feel good again.

"There are areas of the brain that get fed by stress and those areas cause even more anxiety and even more stress," she said. "So it really is a cycle that feeds on itself."

Instead, Malik encourages her patients to incorporate meditation, yoga and even acupuncture to their treatment plan in order to help combat the effects of stress on the body.

"If you can't change the stressful event in your life, the goal is to change how you respond to it," she said. "Even faking a smile when you don't feel like it can result in the release of endorphins."

According to Malik, it's critical to pay attention to the mind in order to stay healthy.

"The mind can set off hormonal pathways and inflammatory pathways that can override the medications," Malik added.

For more information on Dr. Shaista Malik, click here.

For more information on the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine At UCI, click here.

**Dr. Malik will join us live in studio at 5:00 p.m. on Friday to take a look at what stress does to our bodies and how to defeat it. She will also answer your questions about the effect stress can have on the heart.


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