According to a 2006 Canadian study, cats are more effective than medication in preventing heart disease. Out of the 4,435 subjects (aged 30 to 75), those who did not have a cat had a 40% higher risk of having a heart attack and a 30% greater risk of dying from other heart diseases than those who do have or have had a cat. For those without a previous history of heart attacks, taking statin medications (e.g., Mevacor, etc) results in less than 2% decrease in heart attack deaths.
How we treat high cholesterol is an example of how money drives medical decision making. Taking cholesterol medications decreased heart attacks by 29% and in those without angina or a previous heart attack, taking statin medications (e.g. Mevacor, etc) did not significantly prevent death from heart disease.1 Taking a baby aspirin daily was even more effective than expensive statin medications.
On the other hand, the news is much better for cat owners. A research study found that having a cat can reduce stress in people's lives, and consequently lowers the risk of having a heart attack or stroke or developing a heart disease. The findings are based on a 10-year study, carried out by the researchers at the Stroke Research Center at the University of Minnesota. The study, which looked at 4,435 Americans aged 30 to 75, showed that those who did not have a cat had a 40% higher risk of having a heart attack and a 30% greater risk of dying from other heart diseases than those who have or have had a cat. The study was presented at the American Stroke Association meeting in New Orleans. Unfortunately, in this study owning a dog did not have the same heart protective benefits. Several studies have confirmed that owning a pet reduces stress, decreases blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduces risk of depression. This makes cats (and other natural alternatives) much safer, cheaper and more fun than cholesterol lowering medications!