Owning a dog reduces your risk of dying early, study finds

The act of petting your cat releases the bonding hormone oxytocin also called the

Increased physical activity plays a key role in the cardiovascular benefits of dog ownership, said Kramer, noting that her own step count has climbed "sky high" since she adopted Romeo, an energetic miniature schnauzer that she walks at least three times a day. Patients studied were Swedish residents ages 40-85 who experienced heart attack or ischemic stroke from 2001-2012. The study found that dog owners who live alone (compared to non-owners who live alone) had a 33% lower chance of dying from a heart attack post hospitalization.

Owning a dog has been linked to a longer life and a lower chance of dying of a heart problem, according to a pair of studies.

One study discovered that "the act of petting a dog reduces blood pressure as much as medication to treat hypertension", Kramer said.

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.

Dog ownership was associated with a 33% lower risk of death for heart attack survivors living alone and a 27% reduced risk of death for stroke survivors living alone, compared to people who did not own a dog.

Researchers analyzed data on more than 3.8 million people taken from 10 studies published between 1950 and 2019.

"Now we're seeing dog ownership is improving mental health independently, and patients are having less stress and anxiety".

Dog owners in the study tended to have a "better outcome after a major cardiovascular event", the researchers found, although the study did not prove cause and effect.

Fall, a veterinarian and professor of Molecular Epidemiology at Sweden's Uppsala University, commented in a statement: "We know that social isolation is a strong risk factor for worse health outcomes and premature death".

They found that dog ownership was associated with a 24 per cent risk reduction in death overall, and the risk of death due to cardiovascular-related issues dropped by 31 per cent.

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

"More research is needed to confirm a causal relationship and giving recommendations about prescribing dogs for prevention", Fall noted.

"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", he added.

Nine of these studies included comparison of death outcomes for dog owners and non-owners, and four compared cardiovascular outcomes for dog owners and non-owners.

The latest evaluation indicates people who suffered heart attacks and lived alone were 33 percent less likely to die if they owned a dog, while stroke victims were 27 percent less likely.

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.

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