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Had a heart attack? Having a dog may help you live longer

By newadmin / Published on Tuesday, 08 Oct 2019 11:57 AM / Comments Off on Had a heart attack? Having a dog may help you live longer / 55 views

Dog owners live longer and fare better after a heart attack or stroke compared with those who have no canine companions, two studies published Tuesday suggest.

Researchers found that dog ownership was associated with a 24-percent reduced risk of death from any cause among the general public, and a 33 percent lower risk of death among heart attack survivors who live alone, according to the reports, published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

The new studies are “interesting and provocative,” said Dr. Haider Warraich, director of the heart failure program at the Boston VA Healthcare System, an instructor at the Harvard Medical School and author of “State of the Heart: Exploring the History, Science and Future of Heart Disease.”

“I don’t think that this is what many people think about when adopting a dog,” said Warraich, who was not involved with the new 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.”

Still, Warraich said, “it’s not enough to have me recommend patients adopt a dog to lower their risk of death.” For that to happen, there would need to be a lot more research, he noted.

One of the new studies merged data from the Swedish National Patient Register, which included information on all Swedes from the ages of 40 to 85 who had had a heart attack or stroke between January 2001 and December 2012, with data from the Swedish Kennel Club and the Swedish Board of Agriculture dog registers.

Out of those databases, the researchers gathered information on 181,696 patients who had had a heart attack, 5.7 percent of whom owned a dog, and 154,617 who had had a stroke, 4.8 percent of whom had a dog.

After accounting for factors such as age, other health issues, marital status, the presence of children in the home and income, the researchers found that heart attack survivors who lived alone had a 33 percent lower risk of death in the year after their heart attack if they had a dog, compared with non-dog owners. Among those who did not live alone, the reduction in risk was smaller, at 15 percent.