Owning a dog could help you live longer, new research suggests

Owning a dog could have significant benefits for heart attack and stroke survivors

Owning a dog could have significant benefits for heart attack and stroke survivors

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

It gets better. A survey of other studies encompassing 3.8 million people shows that dog owners had a 24% lower mortality rate from all causes than those who did not own canine pals.

The clinician scientist noted that it's a team that does not account for variables that can explain the difference in health outcomes between dog owners and the rest of the population. "They had a 31% reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease".

Part of the benefit is likely due to the physical activity that comes with having a dog, Kramer said.

Kramer has also personally experienced the positive side-effects of dog ownership in the form of her miniature schnauzer, Romeo, whom she credits with increasing her physical activity by 10,000 steps per day. Caroline Kramer, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto and an endocrinologist in NY.

Heart attack survivors living alone who owned dogs had a 33% lower risk of death compared to people who did not own a dog.

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.

"We know that loneliness and sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for premature death", Tove Fall, professor of molecular epidemiology at Uppsala University in Sweden and study co-author, told NBC.

By the end, researchers determined those who suffered a stroke or heart attack and also owned a dog had a significantly lower risk of death from a heart attack or stroke compared to those who did not own a dog.

Although both studies are observational and would require a clinical trial to be proven, the AHA marks the findings as significant. Are they healthier or wealthier? One of the larger studies included in the review controlled for a variety of socio-economic and demographic factors and found that the longevity effect of dog ownership remained. Merely petting a dog - notably a neatly-diagnosed one - lowers a individual's blood stress. It might be possible, for instance, that doctors might someday prescribe ownership of a dog to certain vulnerable patients, based on a new evidence-based policy.

Other studies suggest dogs provide companionship and affection that can reduce anxiety and depression.

Having a dog to care for not only increases physical activity, it reduces social isolation, which could help heart attack and stroke survivors in their recoveries, experts said.

Still, Kazi writes, the balance of the evidence to date convinces him that "the association between dog ownership and improved survival is real, and is likely at least partially causal".

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

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