Every year, more than 610,000 people die from cardiovascular disease (also known as heart disease), the leading cause of death in men and women. If you don't want to be one of them, the solution may be simple: adopt a dog.
A new study published in the journal Scientific Reports found that dog owners are less at risk for cardiovascular disease and related deaths. The Swedish researchers behind the study evaluated 3.4 million 40- to 80-year-old Swedes with a history of heart disease over 12 years, and found that dog owners were less at risk for all-cause death as well.
The study's findings may suggest three things: People with pups exercise more, have stronger immune systems, and tend to be more social-leading to a longer, happier life. According to the experts, the germs spread by your furry's friend kisses and dirty paws may improve your body's immune system too. Pooches can also act as liaison or ice breaker between strangers, leading to more friendships and a greater sense of well-being. But that's not all.
The findings also discovered especially exciting news for those who live alone. Dog ownership can reduce a widower or single person's risk of cardiovascular death by a staggering 36 percent and cut their risk of death in general by 33 percent. The chances of experiencing a heart attack are also 11 percent lower for singles with dogs.
The experts behind the study speculate that dogs can in some ways take the place of a loved one in terms of support and care. "A very interesting finding in our study was that 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 than those living in a multi-person household," said Myenya Mubagna, one of the study's authors. "Perhaps a dog may stand in as an important family member in the single households."
Findings also showed that families or multi-person households also benefit from the presence of a dog, but not quite as much as singles do. The heads of multi-person households reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease by 15 percent and death caused by all kinds of medical conditions by 11 percent if care for a dog. It looks like dogs are not only man's best friends, but man's best medicine too.
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