Live longer by owning a dog

If you are a heart attack or stroke survivor who lives alone, you could end up living longer if you own a dog.

A new study recently published in the Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, which is a journal of the American Heart Association, was based on research done by researchers at the University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada and a separate meta-analysis (which is a statistical procedure that combines data from several studies).

Here’s what was found: dog owners are four times more likely to have an active lifestyle and therefore live longer.

Swedish researchers used data from three different sources: the Swedish National Patient Register, the Swedish Board of Agriculture dog registers, and the records of the Swedish Kennel Club.

People in the three data bases ranged in age from 40-85 who had heart attacks or strokes from the years between 2001 through 2012 and then they were compared to the health results for people who owned dogs to people who didn’t.

It was found that of the 182,000 people who survived heart attacks 6% of them owned dogs. Of the 155,000 people who survived strokes, 5% owned dogs.

At the end of the study, researchers concluded that people who suffered a heart attack or a stroke who owned a dog had a significantly lower risk of dying from a repeat occurrence as compared to those who did not own a dog. Those heart attack survivors who owned a dog had a 33% lower risk and stroke survivors who owned dog showed a 27% over risk as compared to people who did not own a dog.

In another meta-analysis research data for 3.8 million patients from 10 other studies were used. In this study dog owners had a 24% lower risk to die from any cause of mortality; there was also a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 65%; and there was a 31% lower risk for death due to other cardiovascular-related issues.

Caroline Kramer, M.D., Ph.D., who is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto,  in Toronto, Canada, states that the studies’ findings showing that people who owned dogs lived longer and had lower risks for heart attacks and heart disease related deaths was a little expected.

But the studies proved that owning a dog is associated with living longer. She admits that the study’s analyses did not take into account as to whether a persons’s fitness or healthier lifestyle could also be associated with a longer lifespan.

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