Our pets often warm our hearts. But a new study shows they might help to keep them healthy too. The American Journal of Cardiology published a study recently that shows a pet can increase the lifespan of some patients up to a year. YNN's Andrew Sorensen tells us what's behind the results.
UTICA, N.Y.-- Doctors have known for a long time that pets can be therapeutic.
Dr. Michael Sassower of the Central New York Cardiology said that's because, "Having a pet reduces the stress on people, because it gives them an outlet, it's a loved one that gives you unconditional love."
But according to a new study in the American Journal of Cardiology, that stress relief makes a big difference.
Pet owners with lifestyle-related diseases live about a year longer than non-pet owners with the same condition.
Lifestyle-related diseases are conditions like diabetes, or coronary artery disease, that can be caused by a person's habits.
Doctor's say the key is that the less stress you have... the lower your blood pressure, and in turn, the lower your risk of a heart attack and stroke.
"By taking a moment, having a dog, or a cat or any type of pet, seeing how that relaxes you probably takes a moment, takes you out of that stressful moment and gives you a chance to kind of recalibrate."
Carolyn Santoro sees the benefits of pets often living at the Masonic Care Community in Utica.
She sees big changes in health when pets come to visit.
"It's a diversion," she said. "It takes you out of your everyday, you know, humdrum life to see something like the fish or the dogs that come in."
Residents consider the fish and turtles here as their pets.
"They're the best kind of pets because we don't have to do the work just to get to enjoy them," Santoro joked.
"One could equate it to something similar to meditation, relaxation, yoga, which have been shown to improve cardiovascular risk in certain studies as well," explained Dr. Sassower.
More proof animals sometimes really are man's best friend.