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Dog owners fare better after heart attack, study says

After suffering a heart attack or stroke – a dog really is man’s best friend – according to one recent study.

CLEVELAND — After suffering a heart-related event– a dog really is man’s best friend, according to a recent study.

The study looked at 181,696 people between the ages of 40-85, who had previously suffered a heart attack or stroke.

They looked at the association of dog ownership with other cardiovascular events – such as repeat heart attacks or repeat strokes.

“What they found was that those dog owners actually had a lower risk of having recurrent cardiovascular events,” said Luke Laffin, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, who did not take part in the study. 

Results showed dog owners, who lived alone, had a 33% reduced risk of death when compared with people who suffered a heart attack and lived alone without a dog.

Dr. Laffin said the relationship between dog ownership and heart health makes sense.

Dogs typically have to go for walks, which gets people out the door and moving, which is good for heart health.

Dogs also provide companionship, so it’s possible that dog owners have less loneliness.

Previous studies have shown that depression and loneliness can increase the risk of heart disease.

But if you can’t own a dog – don’t worry.

Dr. Laffin said people can still mimic the benefits of owning one for the sake of their heart health.

“They can go out for regular physical activity – maybe a walk, jog; even classes like yoga, swimming – those are all great activities that you don’t need a pet to do,” he said. 

Regardless if you’ve suffered a heart event, Dr. Laffin said getting more physical activity, on a regimented schedule, can go a long way towards better heart health and longevity.

Complete results of the study can be found in Circulation.



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