Want to live longer? New study says dogs can help

Don't worry cat lovers. A 2009 study found a lower risk of death by heart attack and overall cardiovascular disease among cat owners even if they no longer lived with their fluffy friend

Kramer also cited one study that found being around a cat or dog can reduce blood pressure as much as some medications, suggesting that proximity to pets can have an immediate impact on stress levels. Dog ownership reduced overall mortality from cardiovascular causes by 31%. "While these non-randomised 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".

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sees the health value in dog ownership.

A new study that takes into account many decades of research on overall health and pet ownership reveals that people who own dogs enjoy a 24% reduction in overall mortality. The heart attack patients who owned a dog and lived alone had a 33% lower risk of having another heart attack, while the risk was reduced by 15% for those who lived with a dog plus a partner or child.

In a study of dog-owning and non-dog owning survivors of heart attacks or strokes, researchers determined that dog owners across the board experienced lower rates of death from heart attacks or strokes.

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

Kramer undertook the research after noticing changes in her own behavior after she adopted her own dog, a miniature schnauzer named Romeo. The reason could be due to an increase in physical activity and decrease in depression and loneliness among dog owners, which previous studies have confirmed.

"The results of this study suggest positive effects of dog ownership for patients who have experienced a heart attack or stroke", she said.

"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", says Fall.

Across the two groups of patient records they gathered for this new study, roughly one in twenty people had current records of dog ownership - as Sweden instated mandatory dog registration in 2001, the researchers used this measure as a proxy for identifying the dog owners in their sample.

"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.

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.

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

Some doctors even prescribe a dog for their patients. Studies were excluded if they were retrospective, did not provide an absolute number of events that occurred and reported non-fatal cardiovascular events.

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