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Healthy Heart Week: Pets

Healthy Heart Week: Pets

Day Three: Owning a Pet
It was a long day at work, but you feel a flutter in your stomach as you approach your front door. You can feel the anticipation of your four-legged friend on the other side. You open the door and are welcomed with a flood of kisses from a dog that has missed you -a lot. Despite the fact you've only been gone for a few hours, your fur baby acts like it's been days. This moment is something you look forward to every time you come home. For those with a cat, this moment may be a little less enthusiastic, but you look forward to it nonetheless!

Today is all about pets. Pets make people happy, this is well-known. But, did you know that owning a pet has been scientifically proven to improve heart health? Some risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease include: obesity, lack of exercise/physical activity, high blood pressure (hypertension), high lipid count, and even high stress levels. So, how can a pet change these risk factors? 
The American Heart Association compiled multiple research studies that looked at CVD risk factors in both pet owners and non pet owners. Here is what they found:

-Blood Pressure/Hypertension: pet owners had lower blood pressure than nonowners, even among those with similar BMIs. Pet owners also had lower resting heart rates. Five studies listed in this article reported similar findings. 

-Physical Activity: these studies were specific to dogs*. Dog owners engaged in more physical activity (primarily walking) than non-dog owners. Dog owners were found to be 57% more likely to achieve the recommended levels of physical activity than others. Ten studies in this article reported similar findings. 

-Reactivity to Stress: all pet owners were associated with lower blood pressures when responding to mental stress. Some reported that those with pets had smaller increases in BP and heart rate from a baseline level during mental and physical stress. Six studies in this article reported similar findings.

Man's Best Friend:
Okay dog lovers, now is your time to shine. This next part is going to be about how dogs specifically can impact your health. The American Heart Association listed 16 science-backed reasons that adopting a dog can be good for heart. Here's just a few of them:

-Dog owners may live longer than those that don't own a dog.

-Dog owners are 31% less likely to die from a heart attack. 

-Dog owners who regularly walk their pup have one-third the risk of diabetes of those that don't own a dog. 

-"When we see, touch, hear or talk to our companion animals, we feel  goodwill, joy, nurturing and happiness. At the same time, stress hormones are suppressed."

-Simply petting a dog can decrease blood pressure!

-Owners are more likely to achieve fitness goals; families that own a dog often promote exercise in the home. 

-Dogs will always be there to comfort you and put a smile on your face. 

Find the rest here.

So stop what you're doing right now and go out and adopt a dog (or cat, bird, hamster, whatever)... it could save your life! Literally.