Pets may help reduce heart disease risk

Last Updated: May 10, 2013, 11:08 AM IST

Washington: Having a pet might lower your risk of heart disease, an American Heart Association scientific statement has said.

Glenn N. Levine, M.D., professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, and chair of the committee that wrote the statement after reviewing previous studies of the influence of pets, said that pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, is probably associated with a decreased risk of heart disease.

According to research, pet ownership is probably associated with a reduction in heart disease risk factors and increased survival among patients.

But the studies are not definitive and don`t necessarily prove that owning a pet directly causes a reduction in heart disease risk.

Dog ownership in particular may also help in reduction of cardiovascular risk.

People with dogs may engage in more physical activity, as they walk them.

In a study of more than 5,200 adults, dog owners engaged in more walking and physical activity than non-dog owners, and were 54 percent likely to attain the recommended level of physical activity.

Another study showed that owning pets may be associated with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and a lower incidence of obesity.

Pets can also have a positive effect on the body`s reactions to stress.

Levine said that in essence, data suggests that there probably is an association between pet ownership and decreased cardiovascular risk.

He added that even with a likely link, people shouldn`t adopt, rescue or buy a pet solely to reduce cardiovascular risk.

The statement has been published online in the journal Circulation.