Science

Woof! Petting Your Dog May Slash Risk Of Heart Disease

By Enozia Vakil , May 10, 2013 01:54 AM EDT

Want to get a healthier heart? Consider getting a pet.

Pet therapy, among different alternative and complementary therapies, has had its share of skepticism and controversy. A new study has now put an end to it all. The American Heart Association has finally issued a scientific statement to confirm the fact that owning a pet can significantly reduce a person's risk of suffering from heart disease, and may contribute to lower levels of cholesterol and blood pressure.

Owning a pet, particularly a dog, can help combat obesity and hypertension, the study claims. This study, which involved more than 5,200 adults, showed that dog owners showed a greater level of physical activity.

Around 78.2 million people in the United States are dog owners, statistics reveal.

These dog owners show around 54 percent greater level of physical activity than those who didn't have pets, according to the study.

A reduction in stress, anxiety and depression is noted among those who own a pet, all thanks to the loyalty and the love that pets display.

Barbara George, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Lifestyle Medicine at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, New York, feels that pets may actually be man's best friends.

"Studies have shown people who own pets, particularly dogs, have lower blood pressure, increased mood-related brain chemicals, better cholesterol numbers, lower weight and improved stress response," George explained to HealthDay.

Both the American Heart Association and George agree that pets, in general, can prove to be an effective tool for weight loss, better heart function, reduced stress, lower heart disease risk, and may also improve social lives of their owners.

"It may be simply that healthier people are the ones that have pets, not that having a pet actually leads to or causes reduction in cardiovascular risk," committee chairman Dr. Glenn Levine, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said in an AHA news release.

Pet therapy, and similar therapies falling under alternative medicine practices may uproot the conventional medicine practices, and help promote health and well-being naturally and more effectively.

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