Having a pet might lower your risk of heart disease, according to a new American Heart Association scientific statement.
The statement is published online in the association's journal Circulation.
"Pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, is probably associated with a decreased risk of heart disease," said Glenn N. Levine, M.D., professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, and chair of the committee that wrote the statement after reviewing previous studies of the influence of pets.
Research shows that:
"In essence, data suggest that there probably is an association between pet ownership and decreased cardiovascular risk," Levine said. "What's less clear is whether the act of adopting or acquiring a pet could lead to a reduction in cardiovascular risk in those with pre-existing disease. Further research, including better quality studies, is needed to more definitively answer this question."
Even with a likely link, people shouldn't adopt, rescue or buy a pet solely to reduce cardiovascular risk, Levine said.
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