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August 23, 2019

Dog owners may have healthier hearts than others, study suggests

Pets – of any kind – provide physical and emotional health benefits

Prevention Heart Health
dogs heart health Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Pet photos in Rittenhouse Square.

While the emotional benefits of furry companions have long been studied and regarded as legit, pet ownership may come with another health benefit, a new study suggests.

A study published Friday in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that owning a pet — specifically a dog — promotes heart health.

The study looked at 1,768 subjects from Brno, Czech Republic, and assessed them on seven health behaviors and factors identified by the American Heart Association – body mass index, diet, physical activity, smoking status, blood pressure, blood glucose and total cholesterol.

RELATED READ: Furry friend to brighten the 'dog days of summer' at CHOP

Researchers then compared the heart health scores of pet owners with those who didn’t own pets. They then compared the scores of dogs owners to pet owners who didn’t own dogs.

"In general, people who owned any pet were more likely to report more physical activity, better diet and blood sugar at ideal level," researcher Andrea Maugeri said in a statement. ”The greatest benefits from having a pet were for those who owned a dog, independent of their age, sex and education level.” 

Adopting or rescuing a pet could be a promising potential strategy in improving heart health, Maugeri added, as long as it would promote a more physically active lifestyle.

The American Heart Association previously recognized that dog ownership may pack a number of health benefits including improved physical activity, better engagement and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

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