New research published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes may have uncovered a whole new meaning behind the term “man’s best friend” - especially for those who have experienced a heart attack or stroke.
According to IFLScience.com, “owning a dog is associated with lowering the risk of a second heart attack or stroke by nearly one-third and sees a 24 percent reduced risk of death when compared with those living alone.
The first of two studies looked at over 300,000 Swedish residents between the ages of 40-85 who had previously experienced a heart attack or ischemic stroke. They found the risk of death was 33% lower for dog owners living alone and 15% for those with a partner or child when compared against those who did not have a dog in the household. For those who had experienced a stroke, dog owners saw a 27% lower risk with a dog versus 12% lower with a partner.
In the second study, the scientists reviewed data from 3.8 million people aged 18 and older from across 10 different studies. In this instance they found dog owners saw a 24% reduced risk for deaths, a 65% reduced risk following a heart attack and a 31% reduced risk to cardiovascular-related issues.
“We know that social isolation is a strong risk factor for worse health outcomes and premature death. Previous studies has indicated that dog owners experience less social isolation and have more interaction with other people,” study author Tove Fall and professor at Uppsala University in Sweden said in a statement. “Furthermore, keeping a dog is a good motivation for physical activity, which is an important factor in rehabilitation and mental health.”