Health Care

Dog at home means longer life, better heart health

Dog at home means longer life, better heart health”

The research is part of a growing body of evidence lending support to the saying that dog is man's best friend-at least when it comes to our health. According to two new studies by the American Heart Association, owning a dog is associated with an increased likelihood of living longer, especially among people who've previously had a heart attack or stroke.

Heart attack and stroke survivors who own a dog live longer than those who don't, according to a study published this week.

The risk of death, regardless of cause, was 24 percent lower for dog owners than non-owners, the study found.

"While these non-randomized studies can not "prove" that adopting or owning a dog directly leads to reduced mortality, these robust findings are certainly at least suggestive of this", said Dr. Glenn Levine, chair of the writing group of the American Heart Association's scientific statement on pet ownership.

"The recognized health benefits of dog ownership include reduced risk of asthma and allergic rhinitis in children exposed to pets during early ages, improvement in wellbeing and alleviation of social isolation in elderly individuals, and increased physical activity", Kramer wrote.

Our four-legged friends have always been praised for their ability to help mental wellbeing, reducing anxiety and loneliness, but less has been reported about how they might have a positive effect on physical health.

"The findings in these two well-done studies and analyses build upon prior studies and the conclusions of the 2013 AHA Scientific Statement "Pet Ownership and Cardiovascular Risk" that dog ownership is associated with reductions in factors that contribute to cardiac risk and to cardiovascular events", said Dr. Glenn N. Levine, M.D., in a statement for the American Heart Association. "While these non-randomized studies can not "prove" that adopting or owning a dog directly leads to reduced mortality, these robust findings are certainly at least suggestive of this", Levine said.

Everyone who owned a dog had a reduced risk of death compared to those without a dog, but that risk was doubly reduced in people who lived alone versus those living with another person, the researchers found. "Moreover, from an animal welfare perspective, dogs should only be acquired by people who feel they have the capacity and knowledge to give the pet a good life".

In the meta-analysis, Researchers reviewed patient data of over 3.8 million people taken from 10 separate studies for a composite meta-analysis study.

Kramer, assistant professor at the University of Toronto in the division of endocrinology and metabolism, led a research team who reviewed almost 70 years of global data before coming up with their conclusion. They also appeared to benefit from a 31 percent lower chance of dying of a cardiovascular condition. Studies were excluded if they were retrospective, did not provide an absolute number of events that occurred and reported non-fatal cardiovascular events.

"At the time when I started work on this, I'd had my dog for a year and I noticed that I was walking way more", Kramer said. The results, however, were very positive.

Previous research has found that dog owners tend to have lower blood pressure, healthier cholesterol levels and less stress, Kramer and her colleagues said in background notes.



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