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Owning a Dog Can Make You Live Longer, Especially If You Have a Stroke or Heart Attack

“Having a dog was associated with increased physical exercise, lower blood pressure levels and better cholesterol profile in previous reports.”

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Here’s some good news for dog owners.

Owning a dog could help you live longer, especially if you have a history of stroke or heart attack, according to two new studies conducted the researchers at the American Heart Association (AHA).

The findings of the studies were published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, a journal of the AHA.

The researchers conducted the study in Sweden by looking at the country’s National Patient Register from 2001 to 2012. They found that dog owners experienced had a lower mortality rate (33 percent) from strokes and heart attacks.

Although they did not find the exact cause and effect, they said dog owners had a “better outcome after a major cardiovascular event.” They said it could be due to an increase in overall physical activity and a decrease in feeling lonely and depressed among dog owners.

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Dr. Glenn Levine, professor of medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine and a member of the AHA, said, “The findings in these two well-done studies and analyses build upon prior studies and the conclusions of the 2013 AHA Scientific Statement ‘Pet Ownership and Cardiovascular Risk’ that dog ownership is associated with reductions in factors that contribute to cardiac risk and to cardiovascular events.”

“Further, these two studies provide good, quality data indicating dog ownership is associated with reduced cardiac and all-cause mortality,” added Dr. Levine. “While these non-randomized studies cannot ‘prove’ that adopting or owning a dog directly leads to reduced mortality, these robust findings are certainly at least suggestive of this.” Dr. Caroline Kramer, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto and an endocrinologist in New York, said, “Having a dog was associated with increased physical exercise, lower blood pressure levels and better cholesterol profile in previous reports. As such, the findings that people who owned dogs lived longer and their risk for cardiovascular death was also lower are somewhat expected.”

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