The heart is an essential organ of our body, in the state of which the health and life expectancy of a person directly depends. Measures such as staying active, eating a healthy diet, walking outside, getting enough sleep, and avoiding bad habits are great ways to help prevent heart disease. However, there is another crucial factor of cardiac care – pet ownership that has tremendous benefits for the heart’s health. Thus, having a pet is a good way to keep a person’s heart healthy.
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It has been proven that dog ownership helps stabilize blood pressure. The American Heart Association (2019) claims that compared to the average citizen without a pet, dog owners are 54% more likely to meet the physical activity standards set by medical experts. Thus, due to the increased physical activity of their owners, pets contribute to the fact that their owners are less likely to suffer from hypertension. Moreover, Maugeriet al. (2019) noted that in several cases, blood pressure in hypertensive patients with dogs returned to normal without taking antihypertensive drugs. Therefore, the presence of a dog encourages its owners to go outside, move around, and increase physical activity, which helps to normalize blood pressure.
Owning a dog is a wonderful way to improve mental health, the poor condition of which is an integral risk factor for heart attacks. Brooks et al. (2016) assert that communicating with animals increases the level of the hormones of happiness and pleasure – endorphins, oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin, which are considered natural antidepressants, and also reduces the production of the stress hormone cortisol. Additionally, the need to take care of a pet distracts from problems and thoughts of loneliness and does not allow one to indulge in despair, apathy, and depressive mood. Thus, pets help people live happier, fulfilling, and more prosperous lives in which stress takes a back seat. Furthermore, according to Brooks et al. (2016), pets help a person with a mental disorder experience a deep sense of ontological security, which significantly facilitates the course of diseases such as depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and PTSD. Having a dog is often associated with improved mental health, which is a vital aspect of cardiac care.
Lastly, pet ownership can help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which also have cardiovascular benefits. Being responsible for pet meals promotes establishing a regular mealtime pattern for yourself that can help prevent insulin resistance and high triglycerides levels. Maugeri et al. (2019) state that dietary changes coupled with increased physical activity can lead to weight loss, which is one of the most effective ways to maintain controlled cholesterol levels. Whether consciously or subconsciously, dog owners then change their diet toward healthy options, which has a positive effect on both levels. Thus, animal ownership leads to better nutrition and lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, contributing to improved heart health.
Pet owners say that at some point, from just funny animals, pets turn into valid family members, which, like others, affect people’s physical and mental health. For a healthier heart and lower blood pressure, stress levels, cholesterol, and triglycerides, purchasing a dog is a great solution. Numerous studies support the idea that people can acquire a pet as a potential strategy for improving cardiovascular health. While having a pet can come with additional responsibilities, the benefits far outweigh the obligations.
American Heart Association. (2019). Can your pet help you be healthier? American Heart Association. Web.
Brooks, H., Rushton, K., Walker, S., Lovell, K. & Rogers, A. (2016). Ontological security and connectivity provided by pets: A study in the self-management of the everyday lives of people diagnosed with a long-term mental health condition. BMC Psychiatry 16(409), 1-12. Web.
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Maugeri, A., Medina-Inojosa, J., Kunzova, S., Barchitta, M., Agodi, A., Vinciguerra, M. & López-Jiménez, F. (2019). Dog ownership and cardiovascular health: Results from the Kardiovize 2030 project. Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovations, Quality & Outcomes, 3(3), 268-275. Web.