American Heart Association: Dogs, Best-designed For Human Heart

  • May, 10, 2013, 07:53 PM
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Pets are good to your heart.

Pets are not just man's best friend; they even keep you away from the doctor and help you maintain a healthy heart, according to the American Heart Association statement published Thursday in the journal Circulation.

Cardiology specialists convened by the AHA reviewed research linking heart health and owning a pet and found that owning pets - and particularly dogs - has been linked to decreased risk of heart disease in humans , and with greater survival rates among heart disease patients.

"Pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, is probably associated with a decreased risk of heart disease," Dr. Glenn N. Levine, director of the cardiac care unit at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, said in a press release.


Those without a history of heart problems were pet owners; they were devoid of high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels and obesity.

According to US News, "Studies have shown people who own pets, particularly dogs, have lower blood pressure, increased mood-related brain chemicals, better cholesterol numbers, lower weight and improved stress response," said Barbara George, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Lifestyle Medicine at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y.

The American Pet Products Association 2011-2012 National Pet Owners survey reports that there are 78.2 million owned dogs and 86.4 million owned cats in the United States. Thirty-nine percent of U.S. households have at least one dog, while 33 percent have at least one a cat.

One study of over 5,200 adults showed that people with dogs might get more exercise because they take their dogs for walks. Dog owners did more walking and physical activity than those who did not own dogs, and that dog owners were 54 percent more likely to get the recommended level of physical activity.

"Walking your dog is a healthy chore; it is a great way to exercise without thinking about it," said Dr. Nieca Goldberg, clinical associate professor in the department of medicine at the Tisch Center for Women's Health at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, according to US News. "Pet owners increase their physical activity simply by walking their dogs."

How is your pet good for heart?

Pets are not a panacea against heart disease. However, there is an association between pet ownership and decreased cardiovascular risk. Actually, healthier people are the ones that have pets, not that having a pet actually lead to or cause reduction in cardiovascular risk. However, the AHA said the connection is not necessarily causal. 

Every dog loves being outside, so it is no mysteries that keeping the lawn clean and green is important to any good dog owner. Most dog owners make their pup's house eco-friendly. They keep their home clean and chemical free. It is likely that taking care of them requires their owners to get more exercise, which can reduce stress, weight and blood pressure and benefit the heart.

"If someone adopts a pet, but still sits on the couch and smokes and eats whatever they want and doesn't control their blood pressure," said Levine, according to Times, "that's not a prudent strategy to decrease their cardiovascular risk."

The AHA advises that adults should get at least 30 minutes of sufficient-vigor aerobic activity at least five days a week or 25 minutes of vital aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes a week, in addition to muscle-strengthening activity at least two days per week.





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