Two studies have been investigating the role dogs play in the health of heart attack and stroke survivors. Because dog ownership had previously been linked with increased physical activity and social interaction, which are a problem for survivors of heart attack and stroke, it seemed like a good factor to investigate.
By comparing health outcomes of heart attack and stroke survivors who did and did not own dogs one study saw the risk of death in those who lived alone, but owned a dog, dropped by a third. This reduction may be explained by the strong bond between owners and their dogs meant owners did not feel as lonely as those without dogs. The increased physical activity in dog owners may also be a factor.
The other study reviewed data of almost four million people from 10 separate studies. They found that, compared to those who did not own a dog, those with a dog had reduced risk of death, most strikingly a 65% reduction following a heart attack.
While both studies have not been able to prove a causal relationship, merely a correlation, this field of study warrants further study to determine how being a dog owner can improve our health outcomes.
Source: Science Daily
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