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March 1, 2008

Pets Scoop -- Study finds health benefits to owning cats

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Web MD writes that "your cat may bring you a lot more than unconditional love after a tough day."

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.

The findings were presented here at the American Stroke Association's (ASA) International Stroke Conference.

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