How Fido Can Lower Your Risk of Heart Attack and Death

Man and dog
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Do you need more reasons to own a dog? Researchers say it might save your life, and not just if you fall down a well and need Lassie to get help: There’s a 31 percent reduced risk of death from heart attack or stroke among people who own a dog, suggests a study by the American Heart Association. The Swedish study linking heart health and dogs was published in the association’s journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

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The study built on previous research about the negative effects of social isolation and the lack of physical activity with new, canine-focused research. The study’s authors combed through Swedish health records via the Swedish National Patient Register and found nearly 182,000 heart attack victims and 155,000 ischemic stroke victims, all aged 40 to 85 with incidents between 2001 and 2012. Dog owners comprised only 5–6 percent of each group, meaning that the majority of these cardiovascular incidents occurred among non-owners.

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An analysis from Mount Sinai Hospital declared that dogs were due at least some of the credit because they encourage daily social interaction and frequent physical activity. Dogs require regular walks, which keeps you in better shape, plus their unconditional love and endless affection help decrease depression. Compared to non-owners, dog owners also have a 24 percent reduced risk of all-cause mortality, as well as a 65 percent reduced risk of mortality after heart attack. If you’re looking to bolster your heart health and longevity, maybe you’re due for a visit to your local shelter.

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