Those who have a cat are less likely to have a heart attack, the risk is reduced by about a third according to US researchers. One more valid reason to adopt one?
After ten years of studying more than four thousand Americans, researchers have found that cats and the risk of heart attacks are surprisingly linked. In practice, those who have a cat are less likely to have a heart attack or heart problems. We’ve always known and argued that having a pet is good for the heart, but now this phrase takes on a different meaning. Of course, the health benefits of animals and owners are visible even to the most skeptical, and now it is science that gives a precise answer to this belief.
This study started from the link between cardiovascular events (particularly heart attacks) and psychological stress and anxiety. Pets probably helps reduce stress, and researchers think dogs have a similar effect, but they haven’t been able to test enough cases to include them in the conclusion.
The cases analyzed are those of 4,435 Americans, aged between 30 and 75 years, in a four-year study, between 1976 and 1980. 2435 of the participants were or had owned cats, while the other 2000 did not have never had a cat. By studying the causes of death of the cases analyzed, the researchers found that over the next 10 years, cat owners had a 30% lower risk of heart attack causes of death than those who had never had a heart attack.
Cat named Ninja, expected to notice an effect, because the theory that those who have a cat are less likely to have a heart attack was actually plausible, but the size of the bond came as a surprise. A link between dogs and improvements in heart and lung function in people with heart problems.
Researchers inclined to think that any animal that means something to a person can have beneficial effects on that person’s health. In other research you have also noticed that pets have a calming effect. Unfortunately, this cannot be a method used by all those suffering from heart problems, perhaps because they live in condominiums and retirement homes, where animals are not allowed.
The reactions of the skeptics
This study may initiate a series of new research never thought before, to find alternatives to normal medicines or surgery. For many, however, it is not valid evidence, as there is no evidence of a true cause-and-effect relationship, just a link between having a cat and a lower risk of heart attacks.
Of course, the link could be with the personality and lifestyle of cat owners and so it’s simply not true that cat owners are less likely to have a heart attack. Perhaps cat owners tend to have non-stress-prone personalities, or are people who are unaffected by anxiety or high-tension situations. But by failing to analyze people’s personalities in their cases, researchers cannot come to a definitive conclusion.
Another reason some experts are skeptical is that other studies have shown different results. For example, one from 1995 published in the American Journal of Cardiology showed that if dog owners have a higher chance of surviving a heart attack, cat owners have a reduced chance. However, this could be linked to frequent allergies to cats, much more common than those to dogs.
But many veterinary experts point out that cats can be more “calming” than dogs, probably because they are animals that tend to be in their arms and want to be cuddled, and it is precisely the act of cuddling animals that reduces the level of stress, heart rate and blood pressure in many cases. Dogs, on the other hand, require attention, which could increase the stress of their owners, because they need more care than cats who are more independent.