Pet therapy associated with improved heart health in older adults

Therapy that includes pet visitation may reduce your blood pressure.

Question

What are the effects of pet visitation therapy on cardiovascular health?

What was done?

28 participants with an average age of 83 years were visited twice: once by a volunteer-handler canine team then by a volunteer with no canine. Blood pressure and heart rate were measured before and after the visits.

What was found?

Pet therapy was associated with significant decreases in blood pressure and heart rate.

How does this affect me?

Participating in a pet therapy program may improve your cardiovascular health.

Article Abstract

Pet therapy can be therapeutic for older adults living in the community. A crossover design was used to examine changes in blood pressure and heart rate before and after a pet therapy visit versus a volunteer-only visit in 28 community dwelling older adults. Relationships among stress, pet attitude, social support, and health status were also examined. Study findings supported that pet therapy significantly decreased blood pressure and heart rate. Ultimately, the findings supported the notion that community health nurses should consider developing and implementing pet therapy programs in the communities they serve. Further implications for community health nurses are discussed.

Link to full article.

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