Heart-attack patients who own a dog and also live with other people were just 15% less likely to die within a year.
"Single owners have to do all the dog walks and we know that physical activity is important in rehabilitation after a myocardial infarction or stroke", Fall added. "Moreover, from an animal welfare perspective, dogs should only be acquired by people who feel they have the capacity and knowledge to give the pet a good life", Tove Fall, D.
The results support a separate study carried out by Sweden's Uppsala University, which showed a 33 per cent reduced risk of death for heart attack patients living alone after being released from hospital if they owned a dog.
"I don't think that this is what many people think about when adopting a dog", said Dr. Haider Warraich, director of the heart failure program at the Boston VA Healthcare System and who was not involved in the research. Stroke survivors living alone had a 27% reduced risk of death.
The meta-analysis found an even bigger benefit for people who had already had a heart attack or stroke.
In an effort to expand on previous data suggesting dog ownership reduces cardiovascular risk, investigators performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of literature-literature was obtained through a search of articles published in Embase and PubMed between 1950 and May 2019.
This study found that dog owners had a "24% reduced risk of all-cause mortality; 65% reduced risk of mortality after heart attack; and 31% reduced risk of mortality due to cardiovascular-related issues". The researchers found that people who own dogs had lower blood pressure, milder stress response, and healthier cholesterol levels, than those who don't own dogs.
"These findings should encourage clinicians to discuss pet adoption with their patients, particularly those with preexisting cardiovascular disease and those living by themselves", writes the author of an accompanying editorial. Whether it's a spouse or simply a caring circle of friends, good company is the secret to living a longer life.
The benefit was highest for dog owners who lived alone. Caroline Kramer, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto and an endocrinologist in NY. Another suggested that owning a dog helped older English adults stay fit during inclement weather. They also give some people an added sense of objective.
"We studied more than 3 million people, and the results are very significant", Dr. Author disclosures are in the manuscripts.