American Heart Association Endorses Pet Ownership For Heart Health

A new study found that owning a dog probably reduces heart disease risk

The American Heart Association just released a new scientific statement paper in the journal Circulation, titled “Pet Ownership and Cardiovascular Risk.” The conclusions in this paper have been endorsed by numerous heart health organizations, including the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, the American Society of Hypertension, the American Society for Preventive Cardiology, the National Heart Foundation of Australia, the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association, and the World Heart Federation. Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women, so strategies to reduce heart disease risk and improve heart health are very important.

In this paper, experts review evidence showing the impact of pet ownership on heart health:

  • Pet ownership is generally linked to decreased blood pressure.
  • Some studies show a lower risk of high cholesterol and triglycerides in dog owners compared with those not owning a dog.
  • Dog owners are more active than non-owners. For example, one study reported dog owners walked twice as much as non-owners. The dog owners said they needed to walk more because of their dogs.
  • Pet ownership reduces the hearts reactivity to stress.
  • Among people who have heart disease, survival is significantly better among dog owners.

The experts concluded that owning a pet–especially a dog–probably reduces heart disease risk. These findings resulted in the American Heart Association recommendation that owning a pet–especially a dog–may be a reasonable strategy to help reduce heart disease risk. They wisely cautioned, however, that adopting a dog should not be done primarily for the goal of reducing cardiovascular risk. As we discuss in The Power of Wagging Tails, spending time with a dog can have incredible, healing power. Although dogs can provide tremendous comfort and companionship, they are living beings who require daily care, including time for meals, play, and rest. Sometimes the full-time responsibility of caring for a pet is not possible. In that case, you might alternatively take advantage of pet interactions by volunteering to walk a neighbor’s dog or play with her cat. Or you might consider volunteering at an animal shelter for dog walking or snuggle time with cats or rabbits waiting for adoption.

Help fight heart disease statistics by exercising more, eating right, and spending quality time with your favorite pet. Time with Fluffy is fun and, according to experts from the American Heart Association, good for your heart.

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  1. Really appreciated step taken by American Heart Association.

  2. Really Encouraging step taken by American Heart Association.

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