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New Study: Owning a Dog Can Lower Your Risk for Heart Disease

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In a scientific statement published yin the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation, it was revealed that owning a dog  can reduce a person’s risk for developing heart disease.

Glenn N. Levine, M.D., a professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, said, ““Pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, is probably associated with a decreased risk of heart disease,” after reviewing several studies performed on the matter.

Research has shown that:

  • Dog ownership is probably associated with a reduction in heart disease risk factors and increased survival among patients. But the studies aren’t definitive and do not necessarily prove that owning a pet directly causes a reduction in heart disease risk. “It may be simply that healthier people are the ones that have pets, not that having a pet actually leads to or causes reduction in cardiovascular risk,” Levine said.
  • Dog ownership in particular may help reduce cardiovascular risk. People with dogs may engage in more physical activity because they walk them. In a study of more than 5,200 adults, dog owners engaged in more walking and physical activity than non-dog owners, and were 54 percent more likely to get the recommended level of physical activity.
  • Owning pets may be associated with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and a lower incidence of obesity.
  • Pets can have a positive effect on the body’s reactions to stress.

“In essence, data suggests that there probably is an association between pet ownership and decreased cardiovascular risk,” Levine said. He went on to explain that while research shows a decrease in the onset of heart disease in dog owners, it remains to be seen if adopting a dog has any affect on those with pre-existing disease.

For more information about this statement or to learn about heart disease and risk factors, visit the American Heart Association at www.heart.org.

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