New Research: Pets May Boost Heart Health
If you are a pet owner, you are well aware of the joy that pets bring to your daily life. Pet owners may also receive another added benefit: longevity, according to a recent study by the American Heart Association (AHA).
Don Hull, Mitral Valve Surgery Patient, with Hooch
In the May 9 issue of the American Heart Association’s online medical journal, Circulation, the AHA details study findings that pets also offer their owners heart health benefits. Considering that cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the United States, as noted by the AHA, this is a potentially lifesaving discovery for some.
Some Possible Health Benefits
Many studies have investigated the relationships between a pet owner and his pets in relation to heart disease. These studies were primarily conducted on those who have a cat or a dog.
Numerous studies report the possibility of heart health benefits for the pet owner:
- An Increase in Physical Activity
- Lower Blood Pressure
- Improved Lipid Profiles
- Stress Relief
- Improved Survival Rate Following Acute Coronary Syndrome
But, that’s not all…
Why Dogs Offer the Most Benefits
With physical inactivity and obesity being the biggest health challenges in the country, it makes sense that pet owners may be healthier. If you have a dog, you need to take him for walks several times a day, you may take him for a run and you frequently pick up after him.
All pets offer unconditional love, companionship and give their owner some kind of emotional comfort, which reduces stress levels.
Make Training Your Dog Easy
Make implementing pet-related physical activity into your life easy by using one of the remote dog training collars available. These collars are a great way to train your dog to come, sit and stay. You can also use it to break bad habits and him not to chew, pull, dig or jump on people.
Barbara George, who is the director at Winthrop-University Hospital’s Center for Cardiovascular Lifestyle Medicine in Mineola, New York, states that pets really may be man’s best friend. She continued saying that studies show pet owners, especially dog owners, have better cholesterol levels, an increase in the brain chemicals that are related to mood, handle stressful situations better, weigh less and have lower blood pressure.
The AHA states that pets can have a positive effect on how your body reacts to stress. George agrees, stating that pets can be an instrument for socialization, weight loss, easing anxiety, calming your nerves and reducing depression.
A study of more than 5,200 adults concerning the physical activity of dog owners versus those who do not own dogs found that dog owners are 54 percent more likely to get the level of recommended physical activity.
Should Everyone Own a Dog for the Health Benefits?
Not necessarily. The AHA states that these studies do not explicitly prove that owning any kind of pet directly reduces one’s risk of heart disease. However, the committee notes that the data reviewed came from numerous relevant studies and pet ownership does appear to reduce risk factors for the conditions related to heart disease. Dr. Glenn Levine, committee chairman and professor at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine, contends that healthier people may be more naturally drawn to having pets than people with unhealthy habits and that the cardiovascular risk is reduced by a generally more healthy lifestyle rather than pet ownership.
Either way, if you own a dog, or any kind of pet for that matter, you understand the joy and companionship that these special family members bring. One of the best things about having a pet is that you are never truly alone. Your pet is always there.
Keep on tickin!
Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.