Owning a dog could help you live longer, new research suggests

A pet owner walks a bulldog in this stock

A pet owner walks a bulldog in this stock

According to two new studies by the American Heart Association, owning a dog is associated with an increased likelihood of living longer, especially among people who've previously had a heart attack or stroke.

These studies build on research and analyses from earlier studies and conclusions reached in a 2013 American Heart Association Scientific Statement entitled "Pet Owership and Cardiovascular Risk".

Kramer says the results are promising, but more research is needed to provide health benefits for having a dog.

The review of the health benefits of man's best friend analyzed research involving almost 4 million people in the United States, Canada, Scandinavia, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.

The Swedish researchers claim that the lower risk of death can be explained by increased physical activity and lower levels of depression and loneliness. Researchers reviewed data on 3.8 million patients taken from 10 other studies, and found that dog owners experienced a 24% reduced risk of death from all causes; a 65% reduced risk of death following a heart attack; and a 31% reduced risk of death due to cardiovascular problems. The knowledge showed even larger benefits amongst of us that'd skilled cardiovascular points, equivalent to a coronary heart attack and stroke.

"We know that loneliness and sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for premature death", Tove Fall, professor of molecular epidemiology at Uppsala University in Sweden and study co-author, told NBC.

Researchers haven't done many studies, for instance, that direct one group of people to purchase a dog, and another group to remain petless, and track their health over a period of time. It also looked specifically at the lives of people who had suffered but survived a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke.

In the past, studies have shown that having a dog alleviates the symptoms of social isolation. Solitary people typically don't exercise, but having a dog forces people to go outside and have a walk at least once per day.

Owning a dog may not only enable you to have companionship and live a happier life but could also help you live longer.

It's plausible that such physical and mental health benefits are the pathway by which dog ownership makes a person live longer. Are they healthier or wealthier? "And I think that maybe dog ownership is part of that". One of the larger studies included in the review controlled for a variety of socio-economic and demographic factors and found that the longevity effect of dog ownership remained.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, studies show dogs decrease stress and promote relaxation and impact almost all stages of our lives.

In fact, a number of cardiologists believe in the benefits of dog ownership so much they will actually prescribe a dog for their patients, if they believe the person can appropriately care for a pet.

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