'Pawfect' health: Owing a pet decreases risk of heart disease

Pet ownership, especially that of a dog, is associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD), says a new study.
According to Hemant Madan, Director Cardiology, Narayana Superspeciality Hospital in Gurugram, it is a well-observed fact that pet owners tend to have a lower incidence of heart disease.

"This is due to several reasons such as lower blood pressure, a better exercise schedule and a lower cholesterol level. Moreover, even after a cardiac event, the calming effect of a pet leads to better recovery and rehabilitation," Madan told IANS.

"People who owned a pet were likely to report more physical activity, better diet and blood sugar at ideal levels. The greatest benefits from having a pet were for those who owned a dog," said Andrea Maugeri, Professor at the University of Catania in Italy.

The study, published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, looked at 1,769 subjects from Czech Republic with no history of heart disease. Researchers scored them on seven parametres—body mass index, diet, physical activity, smoking status, blood pressure, blood glucose and total cholesterol.

The researchers compared the cardiovascular health scores of pet owners to those who did not own pets. Then they compared dog owners to other pet owners and those who did not own pets.

The findings support the idea that people could adopt, rescue or purchase a pet as a potential strategy to improve their cardiovascular health as long as pet ownership led them to a more physically active lifestyle.

"Having a dog may prompt owners to go out, move around and play with their dog regularly. Owning a dog also has been linked to better mental health in other studies and less perception of social isolation—both risk factors for heart attacks," said Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, a senior investigator of the study.

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