In a Minnesota study, cat owners had a decreased risk of death from heart attack or other cardiovascular diseases, including stroke. Researchers found no such correlation in those with a pet dog.
Researchers analyzed 4,435 participants, 30â€“75 years of age, from the second National Health and Nutrition Examination Study. All participants were free of cardiovascular disease at the start of the study. Researchers used the Cox proportional hazards analysis during 20 years of follow-up to determine relative risk of death from all causes, heart attack and cardiovascular diseases, including stroke.
Previous or current cat owners represented 55 percent (2,435) of the study participants. Researchers adjusted results for differences in age, gender, ethnicity/race, systolic blood pressure, cigarette smoking, diabetes, cholesterol levels and body mass index. They observed a 40 percent higher relative risk of death due to heart attack in participants who had never owned a cat as a pet compared to those who had previously or currently owned a cat.
Researchers also found a 30 percent higher relative risk of increased risk for death due to cardiovascular diseases among participants without cats. Researchers concluded, â€œcats as pets may represent a novel strategy for reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases in high-risk individuals.â€