MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The American Heart Association just published a scientific statement saying there are cardiovascular benefits to owning a pet, and that they may reduce the risk of heart disease.
We spoke with a doctor about this, and he was skeptical, He explained that this is an observational study. Meaning, it wasn’t a study done specifically on heart health as it relates to pet ownership. It was noted that in the two sets of people, the hearts of those who own pets were slightly healthier than the group without pets.
Of course, you may walk more with a pet and maybe have lower stress levels because you get comfort from a pet. But Dr. Jay Cohn, director of cardiovascular disease prevention at Rasmussen said the magnitude of that benefit is tiny.
“If someone says to me, should I get a pet in order to seek the benefits of pet ownership? I would say no, it makes almost no difference to you. It’s an observational population study in which the benefit for an individual is so tiny, that it’s barely identifiable,” Cohn said.
Dr. Cohn said that of course, owning a pet can have many benefits. But don’t get a pet to reduce your risk for heart disease. Prevention starts with eating right and being active, things you can do without owning a pet.
What else should you do to prevent heart disease? Dr. Cohn said find out if you are individually at risk of early heart disease through a screening process. And about 40 percent of us are at risk for early heart disease. The screening takes about an hour.