Want to live longer? Buy a dog!
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Dog owners have a lower rate of heart disease and a longer life, according to a recent study. The Swedish study published by Scientific Reports on Nature.com included 3.4 million adults between the ages of 40 and 80 over a period of 12 years. The study, the largest ever conducted world-wide, was possible because Swedish dogs and their owners are registered nationally by law.
The study authors concluded that the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and mortality was decreased by alleviating psychosocial stress factors, such as social isolation, depression and loneliness. Dog owners were also more likely to engage in physical exercise and outdoor activities associated with dog ownership.
The benefit was found to be greatest in people who lived alone. Research indicated that dog owners who lived alone had an 11% lower risk of heart attack and longevity was increased in 33% compared to non-owners who lived alone. Researchers proposed the effect, like the general dog-owning population, was affected by dogs easing stress, decreasing loneliness and depression, and increasing exercise and activities outside of the home.
Researchers acknowledged that some of the effects discovered could be attributed to variables that were not part of the study, such as socioeconomic status and lifestyle. Read the full article at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-16118-6.