If there weren't enough known positive side effects to owning a pet, according to a study released yesterday by the American Heart Association, having a dog or a cat may protect you from cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Glenn N. Levine, MD, who is a professor at the Baylor College of Medicine, and his team have found that having a dog or a cat in one's life was associated with several desirable side effects, like favorable lipid profiles, an improved autonomic tone, diminished sympathetic responses to stress and cardioprotective benefits in patients with already established CVD.
While the researchers emphasized that their findings were not definitive proof that owning pets improved one's cardiovascular health, Levine told MedPage Today that "We saw the most robust data for dogs helping to increase their owners' exercise ability," adding that "(...) there are plausible psychological, sociological and physiological reasons to believe that pet ownership might actually have a causal role in decreasing cardiovascular risk."
The findings, released yesterday, revisit dozens of studies conducted earlier, all of which point into the direction that pet ownership may be good for one's heart - in a quite literal sense.
The entire study can be downloaded in PDF format here.