Dog ownership linked to lower risk of heart disease

Dog ownership linked to lower risk of heart disease

Dog ownership linked to lower risk of heart disease

"Another interesting finding was that owners to dogs from breed groups originally bred for hunting were most protected", explains Mwenya Mubanga, lead junior author of the study and Ph.D. student at the Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory at Uppsala University (as cited in an article by the university posted on the Laboratory Equipment website).

For people living alone, owning a dog can decrease their risk of death by 33% and their risk of cardiovascular related death by 36%, when compared to single individuals without a pet, according to the study. Dog ownership has also been linked to elevated parasympathetic and diminished sympathetic nervous system activity, lower reactivity to stress and faster recovery of blood pressure after a stressful activity.

There is a slightly lower benefit to owning a canine for those who don't live alone - the risk was cut by only 15 per cent. Researchers even considered other factors such as smoking and body weight to make sure the results were as accurate as possible. "It may also be that those who choose to get a dog from the beginning have lower risk of cardiovascular disease, for example, through an active lifestyle".

Dr Mike Knapton of the British Heart Foundation, said: "Owning a dog is associated with reduced mortality and risk of having heart disease".

"These kind of epidemiological studies look for associations in large populations but do not provide answers on whether and how dogs could protect from cardiovascular disease".

For the study, Mubanga and team used data from the Sweden's Register of the Total Population to evaluate the heart health of more than 3.4 million Swedes between 40 and 80 years old over 12 years (from 2001 to 2013).

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"We know that dog owners in general have a higher level of physical activity, which could be one explanation to the observed results", Fall said. This includes taking the dog out for a walk in any weather condition.

Are you a dog lover?

"Dog owners in particular tend to be a little more extroverted, or outgoing" Kay Joubert, Director Companion Animal Services at PAWS, told The Huffington Post.

You know how they say "a dog is man's best friend".

While Bond may not prescribe a dog as treatment for a patient, she said that she will not discourage owning or buying one, or expressing the benefits of owning one. "More studies should be obtained in the United States", said Bond.

"I think it would be hard to take the data from Sweden and apply it to the USA since we have a more diverse population".

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