The headlines from the new research are that owning a dog correlates with a 33 percent lower risk of early death for heart attack survivors living alone. With those who have survived a stroke, the equivalent figure is a 27 percent lower risk from an early death. Both of these figures are when compared with people in similar situations who did not own a dog.

Across all causes of death, as assessed by the scientists based at Mount Sinai Hospital, owning a dog was found to be associated with a 24 percent lower risk of all-cause mortality when equivalent factors were compared for non-dog owners. Other studies show the adverse effects of social isolation and lack of physical activity upon people who have undergone a major medical trauma.

Some reasons why this may occur is because owning a dog requires a degree of physical exercise. In turn exercise helps to lower blood pressure levels and forms a better cholesterol profile. In addition, there are psychological factors with dog ownership, such as the owner becoming less stressed.

Credit: Amanda Mills CDC

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