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Explained: The link between owning a dog and living longer, newly studied

The researchers found that the risk of death following hospitalisation was lower for dog owners, and suggested that this is likely due to increased physical activity and decreased loneliness.

By: Explained Desk | Updated: October 14, 2019 1:07:45 pm
The link between owning a dog and living longer, newly studied Using Swedish national health data, the researchers compared the health outcomes of dog owners and non-owners after a heart attack or stroke. (Representational Image)

A new study and a separate meta-analysis, published in the American Heart Association’s journal, suggest dog ownership may be linked to a longer life and better outcomes for those who have suffered heart attacks or strokes, especially when they live alone.

Researchers compared outcomes of dog owners with those of non-dog owners after they had suffered a heart attack or a stroke. Of 1.82 lakh individuals who had suffered a heart attack, roughly 6% owned dogs; of 1.55 lakh who had suffered a stroke, about 5% were dog owners.

All the patients were Swedish residents. Using Swedish national health data, the researchers compared the health outcomes of dog owners and non-owners after a heart attack or stroke. They found the risk of death following hospitalisation was lower for dog owners, and suggested that this is likely due to increased physical activity and decreased loneliness.

Heart attack patients

33% lower risk of death for dog owners as compared to non-owners, among those who lived alone following hospitalisation.

Read in Tamil here.

15% lower risk of death for dog owners, among those who lived with a partner or child after hospitalisation.

Stroke patients

27% lower risk of death for dog owners as compared to non-owners, among those who lived alone following hospitalisation.

12% lower risk of death for dog owners, among those who lived with a partner or child following hospitalisation.

The meta-analysis covered 10 studies published between 1950 and May 2019, which together covered 38 lakh people and evaluated dog ownership and all-cause mortality. This analysis found:

24% reduced risk of all-cause mortality among dog owners, as compared to risk of non-owners;

65% reduced risk of mortality after heart attack among dog owners;

31% reduced risk due to cardiovascular-related disease among dog owners, as compared to non-owners.

Source: American Heart Association

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