Health

Pets “prevent” heart attacks

Captopril, Enalapril, Fosinopril, Lisinopril, Perindopril or Ramipril are just some of the most popular medications to treat cardiovascular diseases. Doctors prescribe these drugs daily, to keep alive thousands of lives worldwide. Health professionals know well these medications as their patients too. However, Ricky, Georgia, Spider, Toby, Bella or Luna, apart from being names for persons, are also used for pets and clearly not for drugs. Although this thought can easily below to the past, because pets may “prevent” cardiovascular diseases, especially dogs. So, if that is the case, those unpronounceable drugs names may disappear from pharmacies in the near future. Or maybe doctors will prescribe a friend with 4 legs, to improve cardiovascular health of their patients.

According to several studies, dog owners have lower blood pressure than non-owners. Apparently, pets help people to relax and cope better with stress. Moreover, dog lovers tend to be more active. An Australian study (1) with almost 6000 volunteers, attending a free screening clinic, discovered that pet owners had significantly lower blood pressure than the ones without pets. There were no differences in body mass index and self-reported smoking habits were similar. And both profiles, pet owners and non-owners seemed to be comparable.

dog
Someone taking a dog for a walk

A larger study (2) with more than 34.000 participants in Sweden shows similar results. Those with dogs, generally speaking, had 11% lower risk of death than the ones without dogs. Regarding cardiovascular diseases, it is 15% lower. As an important note, report highlighted that people living alone and without pets have 77% risk of general death, 64% risk of cardiovascular death and 89% risk of heart attack against those who have a four-leg company. Percentages speak loudly and seem encouraging. However, those studies aren’t definitive and many voices consider this research far from the reality. Critics believe that it is simple chance that healthier people are the ones that have pets. And not that having a pet improves a heart condition. But there is a bit of truth on both sides.

Clearly if there is a dog in the house, someone needs to care of it. It means, they have to take their pets out of the house, a couples of time during the day, to answer “mother nature’s call” and walk with them. For this simple reason dog owners tend to be more active. Apart from this “daily mandatory” walk, dogs can bring some more benefits to health. Pets can improve human immune system with all dirt and germ that they bring to the house. As people are expose to new bacteria or microorganisms, their body try to adapt or fight quickly those foreign invaders. So, it may reinforce immunity. On the other hand, affection and loyalty of dogs also seem to have a positive impact on human stress levels.

Should you buy a dog?

If you are thinking to buy a dog to live longer, please don’t do it. Look into these studies with wide eyes and common sense. A pet won’t save you from a heart attack if your diet is based on ultra-processed food. And of course, if you mainly have a sedentary life style, it will aggravate any heart conditions. Humans need to move, the nature has created us to be constantly active. If we do the opposite, we go against nature.

As the last note, pets add an extra cost to the family living. It means that those with pets may have a better income than those without pets. Looking into this idea means that dog ownership can afford better healthcare system, insurance or lifestyle. Pets yes or pets no? Yes or no, your health or the health of pets should be a priority to choose either way.

References:

  1. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIR.0b013e31829201e1

  2. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-16118-6

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