Dog ownership linked to lower risk of heart disease

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"A very interesting finding in our study was that dog ownership was especially prominent as a protective factor in persons living alone", said Mwenya Mubanga, lead junior author of the study.

A group of academics from Uppsala University in Sweden analyzed the health records of 3.4 million people in that northern European country, where databases contain detailed information on most everyone's hospitalizations, medical history and even whether they own a dog. Also, those who lived alone but with a canine had a 36 percent less likely of developing cardiovascular disease.

"Stress relief through companionship has an inherent benefit to people's overall health, so it is not surprising that dog owners display a lower risk of heart disease", said Dr. Satjit Bhusri, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

33 pc reduction? Your dog is protecting you from this disease
Dog ownership linked to living longer, study finds

Those who took part in the study were aged 40 to 80 years old and were followed for up to 12 years.

"We can not infer a causal relationship, however, dog ownership is associated with increased physical activity, improved psycho-social wellbeing and socialisation, all of which are associated with reduced CVD mortality- so it is plausible the effect is mediated though these mechanisms". Their owners amiraali much less frequently and later than people who have a family pet was not.

While it makes sense that owning a dog may encourage physical activity, and previous studies has shown that to be true, researchers say it's also possible that more active people choose to own dogs. Risk of death among these dog owners fell by 11% and their chances of cardiovascular death were 15% lower. "Lots of people think that nowadays we have poor diversity in microbiomes, and it might be that dogs have a positive effect on this by bringing in dirt and bacteria", Fall said.

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"Another interesting finding was that owners to dogs from breed groups originally bred for hunting were most protected". But their risk of a heart attack was not reduced by owning a dog.

Professor Fall acknowledged this, noting that those with the motivation to look after and register a dog might similarly be more motivated to look after themselves and visit the doctor.

A total of more than 3.4 million individuals without any prior cardiovascular disease in 2001 were included in the researchers' study. "More studies should be obtained in the United States", said Bond.

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"Alternatively it could be reverse causality - people who are fitter and more active are more likely to own a dog".

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