Having a dog may be associated with longer life and better cardiovascular outcomes, especially for heart attack and stroke survivors who live alone, according to a new study and a separate meta-analysis.
The study was published in a journal of the American Heart Association.
Researchers in this study compared the health outcomes of dog owners and non-owners after a heart attack or stroke using health data provided by the Swedish National Patient Register. Patients studied were Swedish residents ages 40-85 who experienced heart attack or ischemic stroke from 2001-2012.
The risk of death for heart attack patients living alone after hospitalization was 33% lower, and 15% lower for those living with a partner or child in the case of
dog owners in comparison to the non-owners, as per the study. The risk of death for stroke patients living alone after hospitalization was 27% lower and 12%
lower for those living with a partner or child.
In the study, nearly 182,000 people were recorded to have had a heart attack, with almost 6% being dog owners, and nearly 155,000 people were recorded to have had an ischemic stroke, with almost 5% being dog owners.
The lower risk of death associated with dog ownership could be explained by an increase in physical activity and the decreased depression and loneliness, both of
which have been connected to dog ownership in previous studies, it added.