Who has a cat is less likely to have a heart attack: science says so – Who has a cat is less likely to have a heart attack, the risk is reduced by about a third according to US researchers. One more reason to adopt one?
After ten years of studying more than four thousand Americans, researchers at the Stroke Institute of the University of Minneapolis have discovered that cats and the risk of heart attacks are surprisingly linked. In practice, anyone with a cat is less likely to have a heart attack or heart problems. We have 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 by the most skeptical, and now it is science that gives a precise answer to this our belief.
According to dr. Adnan Qureshi, author of the study, this study started from link between cardiovascular events (especially heart attacks) and psychological stress and anxiety. Qureshi claims that having pets probably helps reduce stress, and researchers think dogs also have a similar effect, but have failed to test enough cases to include them in the conclusion.
The cases analyzed are those of 4435 Americans, aged between 30 and 75, in a four-year study, between 1976 and 1980. 2435 of the participants were or had been cat owners, while the other 2000 had never had a cat. By studying the causes of death of the cases analyzed, the researchers found that in the following 10 years cat owners showed a 30% lower risk as regards the causes of death from heart attacks, compared to those who had never had a cat.
Qureshi, who has a cat named Ninja, expected to notice an effect, because the theory that anyone with a cat is less likely to have a heart attack was actually plausible, but the size of the link was a surprise. Who was not surprised by the results was Kathie Cole, a clinical nurse at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), who showed a link between dogs and improvements in heart and lung function in people with heart problems in 2005. .
Cole claims to be inclined to think that any animal that means something to a person can have beneficial effects on that person’s health. In other research he also noted 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 rest homes, where animals are not allowed.
The reactions of skeptics
This study may initiate a series of new research never thought of before, says Qureshi, to find alternative treatments to normal medicine or surgery. For many, however, it is not a valid proof, since there is no proof of a true cause-effect relationship, only 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 therefore it is not simply accurate that whoever has a cat is less likely to have a heart attack. Perhaps cat owners tend to have non-stressful personalities, or are people who are not influenced by anxiety or high voltage situations, Qureshi admits. But by failing to analyze people’s personalities in their cases, researchers cannot come to a definitive conclusion.
Another reason why 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 greater chance of surviving a heart attack, cat owners have a reduced chance. However, this could be linked to frequent allergies to cats, which are much more widespread 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 pampered, and it is precisely the act of pampering 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 the owners, because they need more care than cats that are more independent.