Dogs drastically lowers risk of premature death, especially in people living alone

Owners of breeds such as corgis favoured by the Queen were among the healthiest

For instance, people who choose to get a dog are generally more active in the first place and of better health.

"This study in particular, excluded patients with heart disease in general, and we know that disabled people may be less likely to own a dog so that really raises the question if owning a dog lead to heart health or is it merely a marker for people who are more likely to have good heart health", said Dr.

The study looked at previously self-reported data on almost 3.5 million Swedes between the ages of 40 and 80. The study, done at the Uppsala University in Sweden, says that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the world and having a canine companion will reduce the risk of having the disease since dogs provide a form of non-human support - especially for the elderly and single people. The impact was greatest for single people, said Mwenya Mubanga, an author of the paper from the university's Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory.

The risk of death fell by 11 percent in households with multiple people.

The team analysed national registries for people aged 40 to 80, and compared them to dog ownership registers. "Although careful attention was paid to adjusting for potential confounders in a set of sensitivity analyses, it is still possible that personal characteristics that we did not have information about affect the choice of not only acquiring a dog, but also the breed and the risk of CVD".

The researchers said dogs had a particularly protective effect for those who live alone.

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A man's best friend, indeed.

"Perhaps a dog may stand in as an important family member in the single households", Mubanga said in the news release. Along with hospital records and marriage records, Sweden even has a mandatory dog ownership registration system.

While the research was carried out in Sweden, Fall does believe it may also apply to other countries, including the USA, since popular breeds and people's attitudes toward dog care are similar.

Owning a dog from breeds originally bred for hunting, such as terriers, retrievers and scent hounds, was associated with the lowest risk of cardiovascular disorder.

While some previous studies have shown similar positive effects for pet ownership generally, others have shown the opposite effect. As a result, the researchers posit, dog owners went out more and had added more social interaction than those without dogs.

"Other explanations include an increased well-being and social contacts or effects of the dog on the bacterial microbiome in the owner", she said in a university news release.

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