Dog Owners May Live Longer, New Study Finds
According to a study published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, those who suffered a heart attack and lived alone were 33 per less likely to die after being released from hospital if they had a canine companion.
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The research, carried out by professors at Uppsala University, examined Swedish residents aged 40 to 85 who experienced a heart attack or stroke between 2001 and 2012.
While the same study found that stroke victims who were dog owners had a 27 per cent lower risk of death.
The research was published in the journal alongside another study by the University of Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital, which backed up the initial research's work.
This analysis, which was led by endocrinologist and clinician scientist Dr. Caroline Kramer, focused on data from 10 earlier studies and included information on over 3.8 million people.
Researchers found that, among the general population, dog owners had a 24 percent lower risk of death from any cause over an average follow-up period of 10 years, compared with non-dog owners.
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The authors of the North American study also found that the data showed those with man's best friend had lower cholesterol and increased physical activity due to regular dog walks, which doesn't come as a surprise.
It also found that having a dog helped decrease loneliness and depression.
Speaking of the findings, Tove Fall, professor at Uppsala University in Sweden, said: "We know that social isolation is a strong risk factor for worse health outcomes and premature death.
"Previous studies have indicated that dog owners experience less social isolation and have more interaction with other people. Furthermore, keeping a dog is a good motivation for physical activity, which is an important factor in rehabilitation and mental health."
Despite this, the academic admitted that more studies are needed in order to act on the findings in a way that supports heart attack and stroke patients.
"More research is needed to confirm a causal relationship and giving recommendations about prescribing dogs for prevention," Fall said.
"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."
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