The American Cardiovascular Association, the nation’s largest heart health organization, recently told Americans that owning a dog will likely decrease their risk of contracting heart disease. “People who own dogs certainly have more reason to get outside and take walks, and studies show that most ownersform such close bonds with their pets that being in their presence blunts the owners’ reactions to stress and lowers their heart rate, said Dr. Glenn N. Levine, the head of the committee that wrote the statement.” Most of the evidence, to be sure, is observational, meaning it is possible that healthy people are more likely to own dogs in the first place.
What’s the Big Idea?
While the ACA typically publishes more esoteric findings with respect to disease research, the organization felt that enough progress had been made on those fronts to comment publicly on the importance of lifestyle changes in maintaining good health. “Dr. Richard Krasuski, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, viewed the new statement as an indictment of societal attitudes toward exercise. ‘Very few people are meeting their exercise goals,’ he said. ‘In an ideal society, where people are actually listening to physician recommendations, you wouldn’t need pets to drag people outside.'”