Owning a dog is good for your heart because they encourage you to go outside and run around, scientists claim.
Experts who analyzed the health of hundreds of people discovered that those who had a furry friend – especially a dog – were more physically active.
Dog owners also had a better diet and less chance of diabetes, the researchers found in the Czech Republic.
Being active and having a good diet are the key to cardiovascular health, while diabetes is known to increase the risk of heart disease.
Owning a dog is good for your heart because it encourages you to go out, run around and play with your dog, claim scientists (stock)
The study, led by St Anne & # 39; s University Hospital Brno, has recruited more than 2,000 people.
All participants were between 24 and 65 years old and had no history of heart disease.
They received a heart health score based on BMI, diet, training level, smoking status, blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol.
Personal interviews asked all volunteers about their socio-economic status, medical history and whether they were smoking.
They interviewed participants at their activity level and asked if they were sitting at a desk all day, going to the gym or, for example, walking to work.
WHAT IS CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE?
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a general term for conditions that affect the heart or blood vessels.
It is usually associated with an accumulation of fat deposits in the arteries, known as atherosclerosis.
It can also be associated with damage to arteries in organs such as the brain, heart, kidneys, and eyes.
CVD is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the UK, and the cause of 31 percent of deaths worldwide, statistics show.
There are many different types of CVD, but the four main types are coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral arterial disease and aortic diseases.
According to the WHO, four out of five deaths from CVD are due to heart attacks and strokes.
More than 75 percent of deaths from CVD occur in low and middle income countries.
The exact cause of CVD is not clear, but there are many risk factors. The most important are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, too much alcohol, diabetes, inactivity and obesity.
The more risk factors you have, the greater the chance that you will get CVD. The risk also increases with age – it is most common in people over 50 – if you are male, or if you have a South Asian, African or Caribbean background.
It is recommended to follow a balanced diet, with the addition of regular exercise, to ensure a healthy heart, including sufficient fruits and vegetables and low levels of salt, sugar and fat.
Each participant also revealed what they had eaten in the last 24 hours to assess general food habits.
Nurses then conducted some tests to assess participants' blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels.
The study compared the cardiovascular health scores – ranked from zero to 14 – of pet owners with those who did not have pets.
Pet owners had a median score of 10, while those who had no pets had a score of nine. Dog owners generally scored 0.3 higher than pet owners.
Main author Dr. Andrea Maugeri said: “The biggest benefits of having a pet were for those who owned a dog, regardless of their age, gender, and educational level.
& # 39; In general, people who owned a pet reported more chances of physical activity, a better diet, and blood sugar at the ideal level. & # 39;
In total, 61.8 percent of pet owners were in an & # 39; ideal & # 39; training level, compared to 47.7 percent of non-companion owners.
About 16.4 percent of non-pet owners had a & # 39; poor & # 39; diet, compared to 9.4 percent of pet owners.
Pet owners had higher HDL cholesterol – & # 39; good & # 39; cholesterol – and a lower prevalence of diabetes compared to those who didn't have pets.
The authors concluded that dog owners are more likely to achieve a good heart health score because they also had a lower weight and BMI.
But one thing that did moderate their score was that dog owners smoke more often.
The research is ongoing as the participants have their health measured every five years until 2030.
Therefore, it cannot conclude at this stage whether dog owners are protected against heart disease.
Dr. Maugeri said people could adopt, save or buy a pet as a potential strategy to improve their cardiovascular health.
The findings support the American Heart Association (AHA) opinion that having a dog is beneficial in terms of physical activity, involvement, and reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease.
But the AHA said his own research into good heart health does not actually prove that the benefits come directly from pets.
Senior study investigator Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, Mayo Clinic in Rochester, said that owning a dog encourages people to go outside and move regularly.
Owning a dog has also been associated in other studies with better mental health and less social isolation – both risk factors for heart attacks, Dr. Dr said. Lopez-Jimenez.
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