Owning a dog may lower your risk of an early death

Benefits of having a pet

Need an excellent reason to add a dog to your life?

A study out this week in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, published by the American Heart Association, finds new evidence that dog ownership is linked with longer lives in their 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. However, a recent study proves just that, concluding that having a dog is associated with a decreased risk of death-especially after a cardiovascular event.

"For those people, having a dog was even more beneficial".

The analysis of 10 previous studies published between the years 1950 to May 2019 included approximately 3.8 million participants.

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.

"Dog ownership was associated with a 24% reduction in all cause mortality", said Kramer, an assistant professor in the division of endocrinology and metabolism at the University of Toronto.

"People who lived with a dog actually had less mortality than people living alone who didn't have a dog", said Gulati, who was not involved in either study. For heart attack survivors, the risk of death was reduced by 33% if they came home to a dog, and only by 15% if a partner or children were waiting for them at home.

In the study, nearly 182,000 people were recorded to have had a heart attack, with almost 6 per cent being dog owners, and nearly 155,000 people were recorded to have had an ischemic stroke, with almost 5 per cent being dog owners.

That analysis was backed up by a separate Swedish study, which found that heart attack and stroke victims who own dogs have a lower risk of dying, particularly if they live alone.

"We know that loneliness and social isolation are strong risk factors for premature death and our hypothesis was that the company of a pet can alleviate that", said study author Tove Fall, an associate professor of epidemiology at Uppsala University in Sweden.

A man walks his dog on the boardwalk along Lake Ontaro in Toronto on Monday, January 16, 2017. This is significantly more than the recommended 150 minutes per week for people.

It's plausible that such physical and psychological health benefits are the pathway wherein dog possession makes a individual dwell longer. It may be the case that being healthier and wealthier causes people to be more likely to acquire a dog.

For starters, there are well-documented mental health benefits to owning a pooch: "Dogs offer companionship, reduce anxiety and loneliness, increase self-esteem, and improve overall mood", Kazi writes. "And I think that maybe dog ownership is part of that". Their results show even greater benefit to the dog owners.

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