Pet Ownership and the Risk of Dying from Cardiovascular Disease Among Adults Without Major Chronic Medical Conditions

Abstract

Introduction

In a recent statement, the American Heart Association stated “There are scant data on pet ownership and survival in people without established cardiovascular disease (CVD)”. This study sought to fill this gap.

Methods

We analyzed nationally representative data of 3964 adults aged ≥50 who were free from major physical illnesses. Pet ownership was assessed at baseline between 1988 and 1994. Vital status was followed through December 31st 2006.

Results

With dogs being most popular pets owned by 22.0 (standard error 0.34) % of the participants, 34.6 % of the study population owned a pet. Pet ownership was associated with low rates of CVD deaths [hazard ratio (HR) = 0.69 (95 % CI 0.45–1.07)] and stroke [0.54 (0.28–1.01)] at borderline significant levels among women. These associations were adjusted for physical activity and largely attributed to having a cat rather than a dog. Among cat owners, the HR of all CVD deaths was 0.62 (0.36–1.05) and the HR of dying from stroke was 0.22 (0.07–0.68) compared with non-cat owners. The corresponding HRs among dog owners were 0.82 (0.51–1.34) and 0.76 (0.34–1.71) respectively. No similar associations were observed among men. The hazard of dying from hypertension was not associated with pet ownership for both men and women.

Conclusions

Owning a cat rather than a dog was significantly associated with a reduced hazard of dying from CVD events, in particular, stroke. The protection pets confer may not be from physical activities, but possibly due to personality of the pet owners or stress-relieving effects of animal companionship.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

References

  1. 1.

    Pet Ownership: Data from APPMA’s 2005/2006 National Pet Owners Survey. American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, Inc, 2006, Industry Statistics & Trends.

  2. 2.

    Friedmann E, Thomas SA. Pet ownership, social support, and one-year survival after acute myocardial infarction in the Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial (CAST). Am J Cardiol. 1995;76:1213–7.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Friedmann E, Thomas SA, Stein PK, Kleiger RE. Relation between pet ownership and heart rate variability in patients with healed myocardial infarcts. Am J Cardiol. 2003;91:718–21.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Friedmann E, Thomas SA, Son H. Pets, depression and long term survival in community living patients following myocardial infarction. Anthrozoos. 2011;24:273–85.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Levine GN, Allen K, Braun LT, et al. Pet ownership and cardiovascular risk: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2013;127:2353–63.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Gillum RF, Obisesan TO. Living with companion animals, physical activity and mortality in a U.S. national cohort. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2010;7:2452–9.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Demelloa LR. The effect of the presence of a companion-animal on physiological changes following the termination of cognitive stressors. Psychol Health. 1999;14(5):859–69.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Wright JD, Kritz-Silverstein D, Morton DJ, Wingard DL, Barrett-Connor E. Pet ownership and blood pressure in old age. Epidemiology. 2007;18:613–8.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Parker GB, Gayed A, Owen CA, Hyett MP, Hilton TM, Heruc GA. Survival following an acute coronary syndrome: a pet theory put to the test. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2010;121:65–70.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Moody WJ, Fenwick DC, Blackshaw JK. Pitfalls of studies designed to test the effect pets have on the cardiovascular parameters of their owners in the home situation: a pilot study. Appl Anim Behav Sci. 1996;47(1-2):127–36.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Parslow RA, Jorm AF. Pet ownership and risk factors for cardiovascular disease: another look. Med J Aust. 2003;179:466–8.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Anderson WP. The benefits of pet ownership. Med J Aust. 1996;164:441–2.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Allen K, Shykoff BE, Izzo JL Jr. Pet ownership, but not ace inhibitor therapy, blunts home blood pressure responses to mental stress. Hypertension. 2001;38:815–20.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Aiba N, Hotta K, Yokoyama M, et al. Usefulness of pet ownership as a modulator of cardiac autonomic imbalance in patients with diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and/or hyperlipidemia. Am J Cardiol. 2012;109:1164–70.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Yusuf S, Reddy S, Ounpuu S, Anand S. Global burden of cardiovascular diseases: part I: general considerations, the epidemiologic transition, risk factors, and impact of urbanization. Circulation. 2001;104:2746–53.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Carson AP, Williams LB, Hill AN. Physical activity in diabetes: is any better than none? J Diabetes Complicat. 2014;28:257–8.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Brown RE, Riddell MC, Macpherson AK, Canning KL, Kuk JL. All-cause and cardiovascular mortality risk in U.S. adults with and without type 2 diabetes: Influence of physical activity, pharmacological treatment and glycemic control. J Diabetes Complicat. 2014;28:311–5.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Lainscak M, Farkas J, Frantal S, et al. Self-rated health, nutritional intake and mortality in adult hospitalized patients. Eur J Clin Invest. 2014;44:813–24.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Khang YH, Kim HR. Gender differences in self-rated health and mortality association: role of pain-inducing musculoskeletal disorders. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2010;19:109–16.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division USCB. How the Census Bureau Measures Poverty (Official Measure); 2009.

  21. 21.

    Bloom B, Cohen RA, Freeman G Summary. Summary health statistics for U.S. children: National Health Interview Survey, 2008. Vital Health Stat. 2009;10:1–81.

    Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Zhang J, Mckeown RE, Hussey JR, Thompson SJ, Woods JR. Gender differences in risk factors for attempted suicide among young adults: findings from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Ann Epidemiol. 2005;15:167–74.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    National Center for Health Statistics. Office of Analysis and Epidemiology. Mortality follow-up through 2006: matching methodology. The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) Linked Mortality File. Hyattsville; 2009.

  24. 24.

    Klein JP, Andersen PK. Regression modeling of competing risks data based on pseudovalues of the cumulative incidence function. Biometrics. 2005;61:223–9.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Lin GX, So Y, Johnston G. Analyzing survival data with competing risks using SAS® Software. SAS Global Forum 2012 Statistics and Data Analysis. SAS Institute Inc; 2012.

  26. 26.

    Zhang J, Yan F, Li Y, McKeown RE. Body mass index and suicidal behaviors: a critical review of epidemiological evidence. J Affect Disord. 2013;148:147–60.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Gray RJ. A class of K-sample tests for comparing the cumulative incidence of a competing risk. Ann Stat. 1988;16(3):1141–54.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Cutt H, Giles-Corti B, Knuiman M, Burke V. Dog ownership, health and physical activity: a critical review of the literature. Health Place. 2007;13:261–72.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nonfatal fall related injuries associated with dogs and cats–United States, 2001–2006. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2009;58:277–81.

  30. 30.

    Qureshi AI, Memon MZ, Vazquez G, Suri MF. Cat ownership and the risk of fatal cardiovascular diseases. Results from the Second National Health and Nutrition Examination Study Mortality Follow-up Study. J Vasc Interv Neurol. 2009;2:132–5.

  31. 31.

    Cohen S, Hoberman HM. Positive events and social supports as buffers of life change stress. J Appl Soc Psychol. 1983;13(2):99–125.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Bernstein PL, Friedmann E, Malaspina A. Animal-assisted therapy enhances resident social interaction and initiation in long-term care facilities. Anthrozoos. 2000;13(4):213-24.

  33. 33.

    Hart LA, Zasloff RL, Bryson S, Christensen SL. The role of police dogs as companions and working partners. Psychol Rep. 2000;86:190–202.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Salmon J, Timperio A, Chu B, Veitch J. Dog ownership, dog walking, and children’s and parents’ physical activity. Res Q Exerc Sport. 2010;81:264–71.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Zasloff RL, Kidd AH. Loneliness and pet ownership among single women. Psychol Rep. 1994;75:747–52.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Barker SB, Wolen AR. The benefits of human-companion animal interaction: a review. J Vet Med Educ. 2008;35:487–95.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Banks MR, Banks WA. The effects of animal-assisted therapy on loneliness in an elderly population in long-term care facilities. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2002;57:M428–32.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Goldmeier J. Pets or people: another research note. Gerontologist. 1986;26:203–6.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Garrity TF, Stallones LMMB, Johnson TP. Pet ownership and attachment as supportive factors in the health of the elderly. Anthrozoos. 1989;3(1):35–44.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    McEwen LN, Kim C, Haan M, et al. Diabetes reporting as a cause of death. Diabetes Care. 2006;29:247–53.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author contributions

Preliminary results of this work were submitted by Ms Ogechi in partial fulfillment of the requirements for her degree in Master of Public Health. Dr. Zhang conceived and designed the study, acquired, and critically revised it. Dr. Zhang had full access to all of the data in the study, takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis; Drs. Hansen and Liu assisted in designing, analyzing and interpreting the data and revising the manuscript; Ms. Snook, and Davis drafted and revised the article.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jian Zhang.

Ethics declarations

Funding source

The project was done with no specific funding.

Financial disclosure and conflict of interest statement for all authors

There is no conflict of interest to be declared, and no honorarium, grant, or other form of payment was given to anyone to produce the manuscript.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study by National Centers for Health Statistics (NCHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, United States. The NCHS IRB/ERB Protocol Numbers are #2011-17 (NHANES 2013-2011), #2005-08 (NHANES2005-2010), and #98-12 (NHANES1999-2004).

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 31 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Ogechi, I., Snook, K., Davis, B.M. et al. Pet Ownership and the Risk of Dying from Cardiovascular Disease Among Adults Without Major Chronic Medical Conditions. High Blood Press Cardiovasc Prev 23, 245–253 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40292-016-0156-1

Download citation

Keywords

  • Exercise
  • Follow-up studies
  • Mortality
  • Pet ownership
  • NHANES