Two new studies that surveyed survivors of strokes and heart attacked, conducted by the American Heart Association, found that survivors who owned dogs had increased physical activity levels and increased social support, both of which could improve the outcome after a major cardiovascular event. The research also indicated dog ownership may be particularly important for people who live alone, where a pet may provide companionship and motivation for physical activity.
The Studies also indicated that dog ownership was associated with a 33% lower risk of death for heart attack survivors living alone and 27% reduced risk of death for stroke survivors living alone, compared to people who did not own a dog. Better yet, oowning a dog was associated with a 24% reduced risk of all-cause mortality and a 31% lower risk of death by heart attack or stroke compared to non-owners. That means anyone who owns a dog is more likely to live longer than those who don't!
The findings are supported by an older study conducted by a team of scientists at Uppsala University in Sweden, which found that those with a canine companion had a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular disease, as well as other causes.
More than 3.4 million Swedes aged 40 to 80 were examined in the study, which showed that dog ownership was a “protective factor” in people living alone, says Mwenya Mubanga, lead junior author of the study and PhD student at the Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory, Uppsala University.
“Other explanations,” says Tove Fall, senior author of the study and Associate Professor in Epidemiology at the Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory, Uppsala University, “include an increased well-being and social contacts or effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome in the owner."
Keen to adopt a dog? Watch a guide on the type of dog you should adopt, based on your star sign!