Dogs protect your heart
Scientists in Sweden have analyzed data from over three million people between the ages of 40 and 80 years old. This study, published in Scientific Reports Journal, attempted to find out if there was a relationship between dog ownership and mortality.
It also looked at the relationship between dog ownership and heart disease. Owning a dog was found to lower the chances of death from any cause.“In single and multiple-person households, dog ownership was associated with lower risk of death.” Owning a dog was also found to lower the risk of death from heart disease. “Dog ownership was associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease death.” For persons living alone, dog ownership was protective against heart disease. “In single person households, dog ownership was inversely associated with cardiovascular outcomes.” Another interesting finding was that certain types of dogs provided more protection against heart disease than others! “Ownership of hunting breed dogs was associated with lowest risk of cardiovascular disease.” The scientists concluded that owning a dog can be protective against heart disease and death from all causes. “Dog ownership appears to be associated with lower risk of CVD in single-person households and lower mortality in the general population.”
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world. In Europe, where this study was conducted, over four million people died from heart disease 2016. Previous studies found that owning a dog was associated with relief from social isolation and offered an improved sense of general well-being.“Dog ownership has been reported to be associated with alleviation of social isolation and improved perception of wellbeing, particularly in single persons and the elderly.”
These effects would contribute to a lowering of psychological stress. Psychological stress is a major factor in most chronic diseases. As we get older, our capacity for recovery becomes impaired. Walking becomes an excellent form of healthy exercise. When people own dogs they are more active. Dogs need to be walked and people like to look after their dogs.“A meta-analysis of eleven observational studies found that dog owners walked more and were more physically active than non-owners.”
Remember that the study found that hunting dogs are more protective? These dogs generally need more activity, and that may mean that their owners get more healthy low-level activity.
Daylight is of critical importance to human health – something many people don’t realize. When the weather gets bad people tend to stay in – even more so when they are getting older. But dogs still need to be walked – and people tend to do more walking in bad weather when they have dogs.
Indeed, there are even studies showing that death from all causes increases in periods of low light. This includes nighttime and winter.It’s possible that taking your dog for a walk could have some unexpected and powerful health benefits. Owning a dog lowers many of the risk factors for heart disease, as shown by previous studies. “Dog ownership has been reported as inversely associated with the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors, such as dyslipidemia, hypertension, and diabetes”
In patients with diagnosed heart disorders, dog ownership is associated with better outcomes. “In patients with coronary artery disease, dog ownership is reportedly associated with improved survival.”
So it seems from this enormous library of data that owning a dog can protect your heart, improve your sense of well-being, and lower your risk of death.
Humans and dogs have lived and worked together for many thousands of years. This is a truly ancient human biohack! Don’t replace professional medical advice with a dog, though – see a doctor about health problems. (IS)