Study Proves Cats are Good for the Heart

According to a University of Minnesota study, participants
who had never owned a cat had a much greater risk of
death due to heart attack or cardiovascular disease than
cat owners. Controversial Study Links Cat Ownership to
Lower Heart Attack, Stroke Risks. New research suggests
cat ownership could reduce the risk of heart attack and
stroke. But the exact reasons behind this link perplex
medical experts.

And new research suggests the benefits of cat ownership
may even go beyond pain relief. According to the study,  
cat owners may actually be less likely to die from heart
attack, stroke or other types of cardiovascular disease.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota's Stroke
Research Center looked at 4,435 people, aged 30 to 75
years, who were participating in ongoing national
government health research from the National Health and
Nutrition Examination Study. They found that over a
20-year period, those who had never owned a cat had a
40 percent greater risk of death due to heart attack and a
30 percent higher risk of death due to any sort of
cardiovascular disease than previous or current cat
owners. Researchers found no such protective effects for
dog owners.

Vets, Heart Experts Disagree Over Findings. To many
veterinary experts, these findings came as no surprise.
Although the researchers weren't able to pinpoint the
reason why cat owners would experience these heart
benefits, it might have something to do with the ability of
cats to lower stress and anxiety in their owners.

The researchers were not able to analyze the personality
traits of the study's participants, and therefore could not
stratify the individuals based on personality to see how
certain personality traits might relate to cat ownership.
Because of this, some experts believe the research should
be taken with a grain of salt.

Moreover, some experts pointed to past research on the
health benefits of pet ownership which had vastly different
conclusions.
A study of heart attack patients published in the American
Journal of Cardiology in 1995 found dog owners were six
times more likely to survive an additional year than
patients who didn't own dogs.

According to statistics from the American Veterinary
Medical Association, there are more than 72 million pet
dogs in the United States and nearly 82 million pet cats.

                                                                                   Courtesy: ABC News
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