Thinking about adopting a shelter pet to save a life? A new study released by the American Heart Association (AHA) shows that a pet might return the favor by reducing heart disease.
The American Heart Association (AHA) issued a scientific statement saying owning a pet may help to decrease a person's risk of heart disease and is linked with lower levels of obesity, blood pressure and cholesterol. Dog ownership, in particular, was especially helpful with a correlation of increased physical activity with people walking their dogs.
One study of over 5,200 adults showed that dog owners were more active than non-dog owners, and were 54 percent more likely to reach recommended levels of physical activity.
Other research has already confirmed that pets have a calming effect on humans and therefore have been used in therapy programs. This close companionship with a pet can reduce levels of stress hormones that are released with emotional or stressful situations. This may be a reason why many patients on blood pressure medication have seen their dose requirements reduced as a result of the calming and positive emotional effects a pet may have on them.
Dr. Glenn N. Levine, at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, said in a press release, "Pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, is probably associated with a decreased risk of heart disease," He is the chair of the committee that wrote the AHA's new policy statement, which was published in on May 9.
"We didn't want to make this too strong of a statement, but there are plausible psychological, sociological and physiological reasons to believe that pet ownership might actually have a causal role in decreasing cardiovascular risk," Levine said.
Photo courtesy of Racchio.