- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A study published Tuesday suggest there may be significant health benefits to owning man’s best friend. 

The findings — published in the journal “Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes” — found that heart-attack survivors who owned a dog but otherwise live alone were 33% less likely to die within a year of their heart attack.

Heart-attack patients who own a dog and also live with other people were just 15% less likely to die within a year.

Among the general public, 24% saw a reduced risk of death with a canine in the house.

The study’s lead author said these results aren’t shocked by the result, as dogs can provide healthy lifestyles with the walks they’re required to have.

“As a dog owner myself I can see the benefits, my step counting really went up after I got a dog,” said Dr. Caroline Kramer, endocrinologist and clinician-scientist at the University of Toronto.

Study co-author Tove Fall, a Swedish professor of molecular epidemiology at Uppsala University, agreed: “We know that loneliness and sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for premature death. Dogs are an excellent motivation for their owners to get outdoors and walk them.”

“I don’t think that this is what many people think about when adopting a dog,” said Dr. Haider Warraich, director of the heart failure program at the Boston VA Healthcare System and who was not involved in the research.

“They think they’re doing it for the animal, not for their own health. But these studies suggest that adopting a dog may be as much of a service to your own health as the dog’s,” he said, according to NBC News.

However, Dr. Warraich said more research needs to be done and added: “It’s not enough to have me recommend patients adopt a dog to lower their risk of death.”

In the heart attack study, 181,696 Swedes ages 40 to 85 who had a heart attack or stroke between January 2001 and December 2012 were monitored through a database. Of them, 5.7% owned dogs. Factors like age, other health issues and marital status were factored out.

A second cardiovascular health study included in the report examined data of 3,837,005 people from ten previous studies. Margins of error were not provided for either study.

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