In a new study, researchers found that owning a pet may help maintain a healthy heart, especially if that pet is a dog.
The result is from the first analysis of data from the Kardiozive Brno 2030 study.
The study examines the link of pet ownership—specifically dog ownership—with heart disease risk factors and heart health.
The team looked at 1,769 people with no history of heart disease and scored them based on Life’s Simple 7 ideal health behaviors and factors, including body mass index, diet, physical activity, smoking status, blood pressure, blood glucose, and total cholesterol.
The team compared the heart health scores of pet owners overall to those who did not own pets. Then it compared dog owners to other pet owners and those who did not own pets.
They found people who owned any pet were more likely to report more physical activity, better diet, and blood sugar at an ideal level.
The greatest benefits of having a pet were for those who owned a dog.
The findings show a link between dog ownership and heart health.
It is in line with the American Heart Association’s scientific statement on the benefits of owning a dog in terms of physical activity, engagement, and reduction of heart disease risk.
The team says people could adopt, rescue or purchase a pet as a potential strategy to improve their heart health as long as pet ownership led them to a more physically active lifestyle.
Owning a dog also has been linked to better mental health in other studies and less social isolation, both are linked to a lower risk of heart attacks.
The lead author of the study is Andrea Maugeri, Ph.D., a researcher with the International Clinical Research Center at St. Anne’s University Hospital in Brno and the University of Catania in Catania, Italy.
The study is published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovations, Quality & Outcomes.
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