To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Apparently having a cat cuts a person's risk of death from heart attack or stroke.

Owning a Cat Good for the Heart?

A new study shows that cat owners are less likely to die of a heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases than people who have never had a pet cat.

The findings emerged from an analysis of data on nearly 4,500 men and women, ages 30 to 75, who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study. All were free of cardiovascular disease when they entered the study in the 1970s.

Over half, 55%, reported having a pet cat at some point in their lives.

Compared with cat owners, people who never had a pet cat were 40% more likely to die of a heart attack over the 20-year study period. They were also 30% more likely to die of any cardiovascular disease, including stroke, heart failure, and chronic heart disease.

The results held true even after the researchers took into account other risk factors for heart disease and stroke, including age, gender, race, blood pressure, and smoking.

The researchers found no such link for people who had a pet dog.

So we have a correlation, and assume a cause-and-effect, which probably isn't too out of line.

There's a possibility that the kind of person who would have a cat probably has some lifestyle feature that improves his/her cardiovascular health.

If there is a cause-and-effect it may not be that whole stress-reducing thing of having a purring creature in your lap. It could be something weird, like cats carrying some microorganism that has a positive effect on humans' health. Stranger things have happened.

Or it could be that instead of dying of stroke or heart disease, cat owners die of something else, like falling down the stairs tripping over the kitten and breaking their neck as my BIL did (he recovered).

Anyway, I knew there had to be a reason why we have these little - uh - darlings.

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