A new study from Sweden found that dog owners have a lower chance of developing heart disease. Researchers found that more than 3.4 million people who own a dog have better cardiovascular health than those who don’t. The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.
A group of scientists from the Uppsala University in Sweden went through national registry records of Swedish men and women between the ages of 40 and 80. They specifically focused on people who registered as dog owners and had no history of heart disease in 2001. The researchers then followed their health records throughout the years. Swedish people are required to register themselves if they own a dog and every visit to the hospital is recorded in a national database.
The results pointed to a lower risk of death due to health problems, regardless if the people smoked or if they came from different socioeconomic backgrounds.
The reason as to why dog owners have an increased resistance to cardiovascular disease stems from their having an increased physical activity as an overall improved social life. Research also showed contact with dogs can change one’s bacterial microbiome. A microbiome is the collection of microscopic species which live in the gut. Dogs are thought to change home environments by bringing dirt into them, effectively exposing the owners to bacteria they may not have encountered otherwise.
Lead author of the study, Mwenya Mubanga, said that dogs are able to protect their owners from heart diseases as a result.
„…dog ownership was especially prominent as a protective factor in persons living alone, which is a group reported previously to be at higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death,” she said.
People who lived alone with a dog had a 33 percent reduced risk of death when compared to people living alone and without a dog
The findings echo another study conducted in 2013 by the American Heart Association.
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