When it comes to a cardiovascular event, help could come from an unexpected place.

By Dan Nosowitz
October 09, 2019

For dog owners, it's no surprise that having a pup can improve your life. But even the most effusive dog-lovers might not realize just how beneficial their pets can be. However, a recent study proves just that, concluding that having a dog is associated with a decreased risk of death—especially after a cardiovascular event.

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The new study out of Sweden cross-checked national healthcare data with data from dog registries for hundreds of thousands of people between the ages of 40 and 85. It also looked specifically at the lives of people who had suffered but survived a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke. 

Credit: Don Mason/Getty

The researchers found that owning a dog reduces the risk of death in people between 40 and 85 by 24%. But that percentage gets even higher for certain groups. For people who have had a prior cardiovascular event and who also live alone, having a dog reduces the risk of death by a whopping 33%, says NBC News. Having a dog, it seems, is a big advantage for your health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack each year. About 210,000 of those heart attacks happen to people who have already had a heart attack. Some of the warning signs for heart disease include physical inactivity and obesity. Loneliness and social isolation can also be a telling factor for heart disease; some studies even say it’s as big a contributor as smoking.

Owning a dog could help alleviate several of those contributing factors. As any canine owner knows, a dog is a great motivator to get out of the house and go for a walk. They can also provide comfort and companionship, and even help introduce us to other people, whether at dog parks or simply on the street. 

So while there are many considerations to take before adopting a dog, this study certainly tips the scales for man's best friend.