A team of researchers says that owning a dog may help you live longer. The researchers, led by Mount Sinai endocrinologist Dr. Caroline Kramer, analyzed data from over 70 years of scientific studies that included data on nearly four million people from six countries and found that "dog ownership was associated with a 24 percent reduction in all-cause mortality."
The study, which was published in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association, showed that owning a dog is especially helpful for the well-being of people who have suffered a heart attack or stroke in the past. They saw that multiple studies showed dog owners generally had lower blood pressure levels and lower levels of stress.
"For those people, having a dog was even more beneficial. They had a 31% reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease," Kramer said.
A second study of 336,000 Swedish men and women, which was published in the same issue of Circulation, supported Dr. Kramer's findings. That study found that dog owners, especially those who lived alone, were less likely to die following a heart attack.
"We know that loneliness and social isolation are strong risk factors for premature death, and our hypothesis was that the company of a pet can alleviate that," said study author Tove Fall, an associate professor of epidemiology at Uppsala University in Sweden. "Single owners have to do all the dog walks, and we know that physical activity is important in rehabilitation after a myocardial infarction or stroke."
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