Saturday, December 30, 2017

Would Dog Owner Have Lower Heart Disease Risk?

Many studies have linked pet ownership to better physical and mental health for the past decades. Though these findings certainly encouraged pet owners, none of them could furnished conclusive proof.

A scientific statement published by the American Heart Association (AHA)  on June 10, 2013 in journal ‘Circulation’ reported that having a pet, a dog in particular, may lower the risk of heart disease. After reviewing all the available evidence, the panel of experts from AHA indicated that dog owners are more likely to exercise, have a better cholesterol profile, have lower blood pressure, be less vulnerable to the physical effects of stress, and be more likely to survive a heart attack.

The panel of experts, however, emphasized that while pet adoption may be associated with some future reduction in cardiovascular disease (CVD), the primary purpose of doing that should not be to achieve a reduction in CVD risk. They also stressed that by merely adopting a pet without a plan of regular aerobic activity (such as walking a dog) and implementation of other primary and secondary cardiovascular preventive measures is not a sound or advisable strategy for reduction in CVD risk. Further research of pet ownership and CVD risk is required, and should include studies of risk factor modification, primary prevention, and pet acquisition as part of a strategy of secondary risk reduction.

New findings have emerged since then. According to a recent study that was published online November 17, 2017 in the journal ‘Scientific Reports’, dog owners who lived alone were 11 percent less likely to die of heart disease and a third less likely to die from any cause, compared with those who lived alone and did not have a dog. The researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden tracked for 12 years 3,432,153 Swedes, who were middle-aged and older, and were free of heart disease at the onset of the study.

But the researchers admitted that their observational study cannot provide evidence for a causal effect of dog ownership on CVD or mortality, though there might be direct effects of dog ownership on health outcomes. For instance, psychosocial stress factors, such as social isolation, depression and loneliness were all reportedly lower in dog owners. These factors have been linked to increased risk of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular death and all-cause mortality. Moreover, it has consistently been shown that dog owners achieve more physical activity and spend more time engaged in outdoor activities.

Owning a dog seems to help people already have heart disease. A 1995 study followed 369 people with CVD and found that a year later, those who owned a dog were 4 times more likely to be alive than those who did not own a dog. Cats, on the other hand, did not improve their owners’ odds of survival.

Dog may help heart disease patients in other ways, too. Please read more on an article titled ‘The Role of Medical Alert and Medical Response Dogs in Monitoring Heart Disease’.

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