Having a dog may increase your heart health

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dogThere s good news for dog owners having a pet may lower your risk of heart disease, according to a new assessment by the American Heart Association.

Pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, is probably associated with a decreased risk of heart disease, Dr. Glenn N. Levine, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine and chairman of a committee that looked into the issue, wrote in Circulation.

Pet ownership seems to be associated with a reduction in heart disease risk factors, the authors wrote, although it may simply be that healthier people are more likely to have pets. But one randomized controlled study of 48 stressed stockbrokers found that those who were assigned pets had dramatic decreases in cardiovascular risk factors.

Dogs in particular seem to really help promote heart health, the AHA statement says.

It makes sense that people with dogs are getting out and walking more, agrees ACSH s associate director of public health Ariel Savransky.

Levine says better quality studies are needed to prove that pet adoption can lead to a reduction in cardiovascular risk for those with a pre-existing disease. But even if that s proven, people shouldn t adopt, rescue or buy a pet solely to reduce their cardiovascular risk, he says.