New AHA Scientific Statement Highlights Association Between Pet Ownership and Decreased CVD Risk

Pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, is likely associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and is therefore a reasonable recommendation for reducing cardiovascular disease risk, according to a new American Heart Association (AHA) scientific statement published May 9 in Circulation.

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The authors assessed the available research on the influence of pet ownership on the presence and changes in cardiovascular disease risk factors and cardiovascular disease risk. Based on the conclusions, the statement recommends that "pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, may be reasonable for reduction in cardiovascular disease risk," but "pet adoption, rescue, or purchase should not be done for the primary purpose of reducing cardiovascular disease risk."

The authors note that there are methodological issues in many studies of pet ownership and cardiovascular disease, and "include modest numbers of subjects, cofounding factors, differing pet populations, post hoc analyses, and lack of randomized data." They add that nevertheless, there is still "a substantial body of data that suggests that pet ownership is associated with a reduction in cardiovascular disease risk factors and increased survival in individuals with established cardiovascular disease."

Moving forward, the authors note that "further research is clearly needed on this important topic, including studies of risk factor modification, primary prevention, and pet acquisition as part of a strategy of secondary risk reduction."

Clinical Topics: Prevention

Keywords: Risk Reduction Behavior, Cardiovascular Diseases, Ownership, Primary Prevention, United States

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