Having a dog is associated with a longer life and better cardiovascular outcomes, especially for survivors of a heart attack and icus living alone, according to a new study and a separate meta-analysis published in « Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, » a journal of the American Heart Association.
«The findings in these two well-done studies and analyzes are based on previous studies and the conclusions of the 2013 AHA Scientific Declaration ‘Pet ownership and cardiovascular risk’ that having a dog is associated with reductions in risk contributing factors Cardiac events and cardiovascular events, ”said Glenn N. Levine, MD, chairman of the drafting group for the American Heart Association’s scientific statement on pet ownership. «In addition, these two studies provide good and quality data indicating that dog ownership is associated with a reduction of cardiac and all-cause mortality. While these non-randomized studies cannot « prove » that adopting or owning a dog leads directly to reduced mortality, these solid findings at least suggest it ».
Given previous research demonstrating how social isolation and lack of physical activity can negatively affect To the patients, the researchers, both in the study and in the meta-analysis, sought to determine how having a dog influences health outcomes. Previous studies have shown that living with a dog relieves social isolation, improves physical activity and even lowers blood pressure, leading researchers to believe that the owners of these pets could have better cardiovascular outcomes compared to non-owners. .
The researchers in this study compared the health outcomes of owners and non-owners of dogs after a heart attack or stroke using health data provided by the Swedish National Patient Registry. The patients studied were Swedish residents between 40 and 85 years old who suffered a heart attack or stroke between 2001 and 2012.
Compared to people who did not have a dog, researchers found that for dog owners who live alone the risk of death after a heart attack was 33% lower, and 15% lower for those who live with a couple or a child
The risk of death after a stroke for those living alone was 27% lower if they had a dog and 12% lower for those living with a partner or a child.
Increased physical activity
The lower risk of death associated with dog ownership could be explained by a increase in physical activity and the decreased depression and loneliness, which have been related to dog ownership in previous studies.
«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, ”said Tove Fall, DVM, a professor at Uppsala University in Sweden. « In addition, having a dog is a good motivation for physical activity, which is an important factor in rehabilitation and mental health, » he added.
In any case, the researchers believe that more research is needed to confirm a causal relationship and give recommendations on the prescription of dogs for prevention. In addition, 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, » they conclude.
The researchers also reviewed data from more than 3.8 million people taken from 10 separate studies for a composite meta-analysis study. Of the 10 studies reviewed, nine included a comparison of all-cause mortality results for owners and non-owners of dogs, and four compared cardiovascular outcomes for owners and non-owners of dogs.
The researchers found that, compared to non-owners, dog owners experienced a 24% reduced risk of all-cause mortality; a 65% reduced risk of mortality after a heart attack; and a 31% reduced risk of mortality due to cardiovascular problems.
« Having a dog was associated with greater physical exercise, lower blood pressure levels and a better cholesterol profile in previous reports, » said Caroline Kramer, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto and an endocrinologist and clinical scientist at the Center for Sinai Leadership for Diabetes at Mount Sinai Hospital.
« The next step in this topic would be an intervention study to assess cardiovascular outcomes after adopting a dog and the social and psychological benefits of dog ownership, » Kramer said.