Diabetes, Heart and Cardiovascular Diseases News Chronicle.  Diabetes, Cardiovascular and Heart Diseases
 Article 299
    Published on February 1, 2018

Lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, heart attack and death or mortality among dog owners

More than four million or 45 percent of deaths in Europe in 2016 was due to cardiovascular diseases and it is a leading cause of death worldwide. Previous study findings were conflicting regarding the health benefits, particularly on cardiovascular risk reduction with dog ownership.

An observational study by the researchers at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, (Uppsala, Sweden) the Stanford University (Stanford, California, the United States) and the Karolinska Institutet (Solna, Sweden) shows reduced risk to the development of cardiovascular diseases by 36 percent, chances of heart attack by 11 percent and risk of death or mortality by 33 percent with the dog or pet ownership among people living alone or among elderly individuals.

The study also found benefits with dog ownership among families with more than one person (or multi-person household) but to a lesser extent. But there is no reduction in heart attack risk among those people.

Health risk reduction benefits are more among the owners of hunting bread such as terriers, spaniels, retrievers and scent hounds. This may be due to more exercise needed to hunting dogs (and to dog owners) compared to small dogs (and to dogs other than hunting dogs) as they may not require much exercise.

Researchers have conducted 12 year-long follow-up studies among 3.4 million Swedish individuals without any cardiovascular diseases, aged between 40 and 80 years. They used the Swedish Twin Register, national database and other national data sources for the study. Researchers observed the development of cardiovascular disease or mortality from any cause among those individuals owning dogs.

The study shows dog owners were more physically active and got more health benefits even during poor weather conditions as they walked more compared with non-dog owners. The study results also indicate enhanced immune system, social well-being and reduced stress levels with dog ownership. The gut microbime will be impacted as the dogs bring dirt, mud or dust into homes and as they lick us. The dog or pet ownership is the best medicine and a protective factor for people living alone as they provide motivation for physical activity. Researchers believe their findings may also apply to the people of other countries including the United States.

Even though their study shows strong evidence for the health benefits with dog ownership, researchers say their study was incomplete as the study does not show how an individual is getting health benefits and why specific dog breeds are offering more health protection.

Lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, heart attack, death or mortality among dog pet owners and elderly.

The senior author of the study was Professor Tove Fall, Department of Epidemiology and the lead junior author of the study was Mwenya Mubanga, a PhD student, Department of Medical Sciences, Uppsala University (UU), Uppsala, Sweden. The study findings were published November 17, 2017, in the journal Scientific Reports. Title of the article was "Dog ownership and the risk of cardiovascular disease and death - a nationwide cohort study." DOI : doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-16118-6

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