Dogs may help lonely people walk off heart disease

Shutterstock       Dogs may provide more than companionship. They may provide serious health benefits too

Shutterstock Dogs may provide more than companionship. They may provide serious health benefits too

"Dog ownership is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in single households and with a reduced risk of cardiovascular and all-cause death in the general population", the study said. The team also analyzed the national registries to search people from age of 40 to 80, comparing them with the dog ownership registers.

The report revealed that the health benefits of having a dog in your life were even more pronounced in people who were single or living alone.

People living alone have the highest risk of developing a heart disease or having a stroke.

"I do agree that owning pets could help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease", agrees Dr Valerie Kwai Ben, a cardiologist at Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center.

That dog in your home could be a lifesaver

In an interview with MedicalResearch.com, Dr. Fall, who is associate senior lecturer of epidemiology in the Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory at Uppsala University in Sweden, noted that "loneliness and sedentary lifestyle are two major risk factors for cardiovascular disease and mortality, but are notoriously hard to prevent in the general population".

Prof Fall believed single dog owners' increased social interaction with others may be another heart-friendly benefit. At the beginning of the study, none of them had been diagnosed with heart disease. According to the researchers, to own a dog can be helpful for the physical activities and mostly active people use to choose owning a dog. During the 12-year follow-up, they found that dogs may be helpful in reducing cardiovascular risk by providing a nonhuman form of social support and increasing physical activity.

However, the authors recognise the limitations of the study, as the data doesn't show the differences between owners and non-owners before getting a dog, which could have influenced results.

Which is great news, but we know it's not the real reason people get dogs.

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