Hearty Paws: The Pet-Friendly Path to Better Heart Health, According to Chester County Hospital

DogImage by Pixabay

Chester County Hospital has recently revealed an unexpectedly heartwarming fact about heart health. Not only are pets the beloved fur babies that bring joy and love into our lives, but they also offer significant physical and emotional benefits that can reduce the risk of heart disease.

The recent blog post on the hospital’s Health e-Living platform recently examined how owning a pet, notably dogs, can lower the likelihood of developing heart disease. The hospital’s exploration of this topic arrives fittingly in February, known as American Heart Month, encouraging individuals to prioritize healthy lifestyle choices.

Heart disease, primarily caused by the buildup of plaque in arterial walls, takes the lead as the primary cause of mortality among Americans. However, introducing minor modifications in lifestyle habits can create notable changes. Regular physical activity, a healthy diet, shunning tobacco, and managing high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes are significant steps towards better heart health.

An overlooked but impactful addition to this list is pet ownership. Here’s how your cuddly companion can contribute to better heart health.

Pets provide extraordinary social support. Owing a pet strengthens social interactions with other pet parents during trips to dog parks or mutual pet-related events. These interactions significantly improve mental health, reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, which indirectly helps keep heart disease at bay. The emotional bond between pets and their owners reduces feelings of loneliness, which could potentially impact heart health.

Pets promote greater physical activity. Dog owners reportedly maintain the recommended weekly walking routine promoted by the American Heart Association. Owning a pet necessitates regular physical activity and ensures you remain on the move. Activities with your pets, like daily walks or park visits, contribute to maintaining a healthy weight, reducing bad cholesterol, and lowering heart disease risk.

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In a 2019 study, dog owners were found to engage in more physical activity and maintain a better diet compared to non-dog owners, leading to improved cardiovascular health scores. Frequent interaction with pets, including the simple act of petting a dog, can reportedly decrease blood pressure, a crucial aspect of lowering heart disease risk.

Shawn M. Hoch, MS, Clinical Manager of Cardiac Rehabilitation at Chester County Hospital explains, “The companionship of your pet is not only heartwarming but also heart-healthy. Including your pet in your lifestyle can enhance both your physical and emotional health.”

Chester County Hospital also invites locals to join the Heart Tracks Screening Program on March 11, 2024, in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. The program includes measures such as blood pressure, cholesterol, BMI, and a ten-year cardiac risk assessment alongside personalized counseling.

So, the next time your pet interrupts your video call or nudges you for a walk, remember, that they do so in the interest of a heart-healthy lifestyle. Hence, embrace these moments, not just for their warmth, but also for the health benefits they bring.

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This article is intended for informational, entertainment or educational purposes only and should not be construed as advice, guidance or counsel. It is provided without warranty of any kind.