Dog ownership associated with longer life, especially among heart attack and stroke survivors

Posted on October 9, 2019

Previous research demonstrated how social isolation and lack of physical activities can negatively impact patients – and now researchers sought to determine how dog ownership affect health outcomes. Prior studies have shown that dog ownership alleviates social isolation, improves physical activities and even lowers blood pressure – leading researchers to believe dog owners could potentially have better cardiovascular outcomes compared to non-owners.

Researchers compared the health outcomes of dog owners and non-owners after a heart attack or stroke using health data provided by the Swedish National Patient Register. Patients studied were Swedish residents aged 45-80 who experienced heart attack or ischemic stroke from 2001 to 2012. Compared to people who did not own a dog, researchers found that dog owners: (i) risk of death for heart attack patients living alone after hospitalization was 33% lower, and 15% lower for those living with a partner or a child (ii) risk of death for stroke patients living alone after hospitalization was 27% lower and 12% lower for those living with a partner or a child.

The lower risk of death is associated with dog ownership could be explained by an increase in physical activity and the decreased depression and loneliness, both of which have been connected to dog ownership in previous studies.

Social isolation is a strong risk factor for worse health outcomes and premature death. Studies have indicated that dog owners’ experiences less social isolation and have more interaction with other people – keeping a dog is also a good motivation for physical activity, which is an important factor in rehabilitation and mental health.

Source material from Science Daily

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