Dog ownership may be associated with longer life and better cardiovascular outcomes, especially for heart attack and stroke survivors who live alone, according to a new study.
The analysis published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, a journal of the American Heart Association showed that compared to people who did not own a dog, dog owners risk of death for heart attack patients living alone after hospitalization was 33% lower.
The researchers also found that it was 15% lower for those living with a partner or child.
According to ScienceDaily, “Dog ownership is associated with reductions in factors that contribute to cardiac risk and to cardiovascular events,” said Glenn N. Levine, M.D., chair of the writing group of the American Heart Association’s scientific statement on pet ownership.
Prior studies have shown that dog ownership alleviates social isolation, improves physical activity and even lowers blood pressure, leading researchers to believe dog owners could potentially have better cardiovascular outcomes compared to non-owners.
Researchers in this study compared the health outcomes of dog owners and non-owners after a heart attack or stroke using health data provided by the Swedish National Patient Register.
Patients studied were Swedish residents ages 40-85 who experienced heart attack or ischemic stroke from 2001-2012.
The lower risk of death associated with dog ownership could be explained by an increase in physical activity and the decreased depression and loneliness, both of which have been connected to dog ownership in previous studies.
“We know that social isolation is a strong risk factor for worse health outcomes and premature death. Previous studies have indicated that dog owners experience less social isolation and have more interaction with other people,” said Tove Fall, D. V. M., professor at Uppsala University in Sweden.
“Furthermore, keeping a dog is a good motivation for physical activity, which is an important factor in rehabilitation and mental health.”
Researchers reviewed patient data of over 3.8 million people taken from 10 separate studies and found that compared to non-owners, dog owners experienced a, 24% reduced risk of all-cause mortality, 65% reduced risk of mortality after heart attack and a 31% reduced risk of mortality due to cardiovascular-related issues.
“Having a dog was associated with increased physical exercise, lower blood pressure levels and better cholesterol profile in previous reports,” said Caroline Kramer, M.D. Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto
“Our findings suggest that having a dog is associated with longer life. Our analyses did not account for confounders such as better fitness or an overall healthier lifestyle that could be associated with dog ownership. The results, however, were very positive,” said Dr. Kramer.
Keep up-to-date with all the very latest celebrity, health, beauty, parenting and entertainment news with the RSVPLive.ie app
Only select news that interests you by picking the topics you want to display on the app’s homepage. Plus, our enhanced user experience includes live blogs, video, interactive maps and slick picture galleries. Download it now and get involved.