Dog ownership linked with longer life, especially for heart patients - Dream Health

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Monday 14 October 2019

Dog ownership linked with longer life, especially for heart patients

Health Benefits with Pets

Latest research indicates that dog owners tend to live longer than those without pets. Companionship of these pets seems good for people suffering from heart ailments and for those who have no one to live with. According to experts, caring for a pet tends to improve physical movement and also eliminates social loneliness.

It also assists heart attack and stroke survivors to recover from their illness. As per the World Health Organisation, heart attacks and stroke are considered to be the main causes of death all over the world. Health tends to improve with pet around your home. Dr. Caroline K. Kramer of the University of Toronto Leadership Sinai Centre for Diabetes at Mt. Sinai Hospital made a comment through phone to Reuters Health.

She stated that they had studied more than 3 million people and the results are very significant. It is said that people who have pet dogs seem to have lower blood pressure, a healthy cholesterol level with minimum stress response in comparison to those without these pets in their homes. Kramer together with her team mentioned this in the journal Circulation- Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Cardiovascular Benefit

Kramer and her team explored the medical reports of 1950 and observed around 10 studies of dog ownership with survival comprising an overall of 3.8 million individuals. Generally around 24% of the dog owners were not at risk of dying over the next decade in comparison to the non-dog owners.

It was observed that people suffering from cardiovascular or heart attack had 65% less the risk of dying the next decade if they had a pet dogaround. Having a pet dog seemed to lessened the total mortality form cardiovascular causes byaround 31%.

According to Kramer, increased bodily activity tends to play an important part in the cardiovascular benefits with owners of pet. It was her own personal experience which she envisaged that after adoption of an energetic miniature schnauzer, her own step count had increased `sky high’ and that she tends to walk at least thrice a day.

Benefits - Heart Attack/Stroke Survivors

With a pet around in your home, even a cricket in a cage, would help in reducing apprehension, tension, solitude, sadness together with social separation. Research was carried out on whether having a dog prolongs survival, seems to have diverse effects.The advantage was best, for dog owners who lived all by themselves.

Dr. Martha Gulati, a dog owner and the editor-in-chief of, the American College of Cardiology’s patient education platform had stated that the most interesting part of this study was that individuals living alone gained maximum advantage in heart attack group as well as the stroke group.

Lower Risk with Pets

Dr. Tove Fall of Uppsala University in Sweden along with her colleagues researched on the similar issue of the journal viewed around 181,696 people who suffered a heart attack between 2001 and 2012 together with 154,617 people who had a stroke during the same time period. It was observed that the heart attack people in possession of a dog and lived in isolation had a lower risk of another heart attack by 33%.

Moreover the risk was further reduced by 15% for those who seemed to live with a pet in the company of a child or a partner. For those who had suffered a stroke and living in isolation, the danger of another stroke could be lower by 27% and a repeat stroke risk would be lower by 12% for pet owners who did not live in isolation.

Pet Adoption

Dr Dhruv S. Kazi of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston had mentioned in an editorial accompanying the study that `Given the magnitude of the potential benefit – and likely little or no harm – these findings should encourage clinicians to discuss pet adoption with their patients, particularly those with pre-existing cardiovascular disease and those living by themselves.

We’ve known this forever, that pets make our lives better, but to know that the sum of it translates to better cardiovascular health is very exciting for those of us who like dogs and work in cardiology’.He had commented in a phone interview, that he wanted a dog for 40 years and the data finally convinced him.

Resources to Care

Kazi and Kramer have agreed that before adoption of a pet, it is essential to ensure that one has the resources to care properly for the pet. Kazi had commented that `one needs to make space in individual’s life to be capable of accommodating them before taking the final decision.

An individual can feel relaxed and reduce any stress in the company of a pet dog or a cat. Companion with dogs is connected with lower BP levels and enhances lipid profiles. It has also been linked with reduction of sympathetic nervous system responses to stress, the outcome of less adrenalin and noradrenalin production.

A particular medical centre has been bringing in dogs and little horses to reduce stress with the staff. It is also a known fact that some scientific meetings have now adopted the same for all their attendees.

Having a pet around and its benefit is all dependent on the pet. Cats that have a tendency of crawling up to the person and purr could have a very soothing effect on the individual. This all depends on the relationship between the individual and his pets. It has been observed that animals often portray unconditional love when they are cared for and treated well in a friendly manner.

Dog – Part of Rehab Process

Though the research carried out has portrayed positive results, we should not assume causativeness. As pointed out by the authors of the meta-analysis, they could not switch for factors which could impact mortality estimates. These were the complete health condition as well as the lifestyle factors such as not smoking and regular exercise. It is essential to have a casual controlled trial to conclude the influence of dog ownership on mortality and CV health.

Registry research evaluating dog ownership and survival after MI and stroke, would be remarkable to evaluate if dog ownership or companionship would enhance the meeting in the rehab process of the patient. Short or long term consequences would benefit irrespective of individuals owning a pet, if dogs are part of the process of rehab.

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