Thursday, 17 October, 2019

Want to live longer? New study says dogs can help

Man's best friend is well known for devotion and loyalty but did you know that dogs can also extend our lifespans? A new meta-analysis of research on nearly 4 million people found dog owners were 24% less likely to die for any reason Owning a Dog Linked to Living Longer, Lower Risk of Dying of a Heart Problem
Anna Jefferson | 09 October, 2019, 14:06

Interestingly, the positive effects of dog ownership were even greater for individuals who have established cardiovascular issues, including previous instances of heart attack or stroke.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, studies show dogs decrease stress and promote relaxation and impact almost all stages of our lives.

Does that mean that even younger people benefit from having a dog?

"While these non-randomized 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", said Dr. Glenn Levine, chair of the writing group of the American Heart Association's scientific statement on pet ownership. Caroline Kramer, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, Canada.

Having a dog also related to positive health impacts like "lower blood pressure levels, improved lipid profile, and diminished sympathetic responses to stress", according to Kramer.

Owning a dog reduced a heart attack patient's risk of death by 33% if they live alone, and 15% if they live with a partner or child, according to data from the Swedish National Patient Register.

Both reports were published October 8 in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

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In two papers, participants reported that their physical activity increased after adopting a dog. Dog ownership was confirmed by data from the Swedish Board of Agriculture (registration of dog ownership has been mandatory since 2001) and the Swedish Kennel Club (all pedigree dogs have been registered since 1889).

"Our analysis found having a dog is actually protective against dying of any cause", said Mount Sinai endocrinologist Dr. "Maybe it's not the dog itself, it's that people already have a healthier lifestyle before". "Their degree of physical exercise is much more".

In 2017, Fall published a paper in the journal Scientific Reports similarly linking pet dogs to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a lower overall risk of death.

The investigators identified more than 181,000 heart attack victims, about 6% of whom owned a dog, and almost 155,000 stroke survivors, of whom 5% owned a dog. Of the 10 studies reviewed, nine included comparison of all-cause mortality outcomes for dog owners and non-owners, and four compared cardiovascular outcomes for dog owners and non-owners. "Furthermore, keeping a dog is a good motivation for physical activity, which is an important factor in rehabilitation and mental health".

Isolation and loneliness have been linked to poor heart health outcomes, Kazi said, and owning a dog appears to ease a person's solitude enough to have a real benefit.

"We've known this forever, that pets make our lives better, but to know that the sum of it translates to better cardiovascular health is very exciting for those of us who like dogs and work in cardiology", Kazi said in a phone interview.

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