October 10, 2019
Dog ownership may be key to a long and happy life, especially for people who have suffered a heart attack or stroke, according to two new studies.
Joint studies published by the American Heart Association examined the effects of pet ownership on cardiovascular health. The findings suggest that owning pets leads to better health.
Researchers examined data from 182,000 heart attack survivors and 155,000 ischemic strokes survivors. Six percent of those who suffered heart attacks owned dogs, while 5% of stroke survivors were dog owners.
Compared to people who lived alone and did not own dogs, the study found people living alone and with dogs had a 33% better chance at surviving a heart attack. There was a similarly better survival rate for stroke suffers who owned dogs – they had a 27% lower risk of death than non-dog owners.
In a second study, researchers reviewed data from 3.8 million people from 10 different studies to look at mortality rates among pet owners. The data showed that, compared to non-dog owners, dog owners experienced a 24% reduced risk among all causes of mortality, and 31% lower risk for cardiovascular-related issues, such as stroke.
That study's data also showed dog owners had a 65% reduced risk of mortality from a heart attack compared to non-owners.
Owning dogs also was associated with increased in physical exercise, lower blood pressure levels, and healthier cholesterol. Researchers suggest that the lowered risk of death could be caused by an increase in physical activity and decreased depression.