Pet Is a Good Companion for Your Heart

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Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide, according to WHO report as of today. This has led to the fact that there are currently many investigations aimed at better understanding them in order to guide an appropriate treatment, which allows us to reduce a significant way this type of pathologies. Within these pathologies we find heart attacks, strokes (strokes), high blood pressure among others. These require a large number of drugs for optimal control.

The human being is defined by the WHO as a biopsychosocial being, because it has a biological component (cells, organs, etc.), as well as psychological and social. Therefore, the pathologies that affect it compromise not only one of these aspects but also involve everyone. For example, a heart attack compromises heart cells in the biological aspect of the human being; but also in the psychological aspect it affects the way in which this patient visualizes life, in the sense that after this event you must make some changes in lifestyle that if they are not assumed with maturity could trigger an important psychological disorder, in the social aspect is also compromised since it will not be able to relate to their friendships in some situations that previously if they could, there are more limitations for the sports and physical aspect.

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For all the above, studies are being developed that are based on both psychological and social aspects of cardiovascular pathologies in order to complement the treatment that patients are currently receiving. Within these studies are those that have pets as a beneficial element for the treatment of some cardiovascular diseases.

Human-Animal Relationship

Since the beginning of time man has had the need to relate to animals; relationship that not only occurred in the food field, but also in the sentimental and spiritual field. The origin of this relationship between humans and animals has been tried to explain in various ways throughout history, but there are currently 2 theories that are the strongest and are the following:

  • Biophilia theory: the main argument of this theory is based on the fact that the human being has an innate affinity with animals and living beings. Therefore, human beings will always have the need to interact with the environment, among them animals, plants, etc.
  • Social support theory: this theory is based on the benefits that humans acquire when interacting with animals. According to this theory, this relationship provides social support by itself and also facilitates relationships with other human beings. All this is possible thanks to the unconditional love manifested by pets towards their owners, which makes them see a figure of friendship and support; In addition to this, pets have constant availability and there will be no judgments, which will help reinforce the psychological component of the owner. Pet owners will show a decrease in the feeling of loneliness. Many want them so many that they even consider them members of their family.

Cardiovascular Benefits of Pets in Humans

Currently, therapeutic plans are used in various diseases in which animals have the main role, these are called animal-assisted interventions. These can be of two types: animal-assisted therapy, in which animals are used therapeutically for a specific purpose or goal, and animal-assisted activities, in which pets are used in the same way in various patients and the purpose. It is the same in several cases, the company and the company's own benefits with pets.

The benefits of pets in cardiovascular diseases have been studied more deeply in patients suffering from high blood pressure, as well as those suffering from heart failure. It is known that these patients present a series of common alterations in neuroendocrine systems such as the renin angiotensin aldosterone system, as well as an increase in the tone of the sympathetic nervous system and a loss of the autonomic nervous system (dysautonomia). The benefit of pets in these pathologies has been shown to be due to a decrease in the action of the sympathetic nervous system, which is mediated by two neurotransmitters that are epinephrine and norepinephrine, which are released in stressful situations.

Pets provide their owners with an environment of tranquility that makes them less exposed to stressful situations and also provide better management of stress situations, which would help in the hemodynamic variables of patients. In addition to this, pets facilitate relationships with other people and by themselves are a company that would help in an important way in the social aspect.

There are psychosocial and emotional benefits evidenced in studies where assisted therapy with animals was performed for 15 to 30 minutes. Psychological benefits include decreased anxiety, isolation, improvement in social interaction, social support, communication, happiness.

The studies that have provided the above information are the following:

  • The company of pets has increased the survival rate in coronary heart disease and has improved mental and physical health compared to patients who do not have the possibility of sharing with pets (Friedmann et al., 1980; Headey, 1999).
  • One more year of life after a heart attack in patients who own the pet company compared to those who do not; this effect is independent of the physiological severity of AMI, demographic characteristics of the patient, and psychosocial factors (Friedmann, Katcher, Lynch, Thomas, 1900: Friedmann and Thomas, 1995).
  • Older people with pets handle stressful life situations in a better way when they have a pet and this is reflected in a decrease in doctor visits (Siegel, 1990).
  • Owning pets has been associated with low blood lipid levels and other cardiovascular risk factors (Anderson, Reid and Jennings, 1992).
  • Patients who have pronounced and frequent changes in both heart rate and blood pressure are more predisposed to suffer from heart disease (Gullette et al., 1997).
  • It was compared in women performing arithmetic operations, stress, in the presence of friends, pets and alone. The presence of friends was thought to reduce stress levels but did not, the patients said it was because the friends could judge them. Unlike pets, I do improve stress levels (Allen, Blascovich and Mendes, 2002).
  • Study of heart failure and animal-assisted therapy evidenced the decrease in physiological and psychological stress and demonstrated the decrease of hemodynamic parameters such as blood pressure, heart rate, pulmonary blood pressure, neurohormonal levels, anxiety parameters, systemic vascular resistance, epinephrine levels norepinephrine. In the group of animal-assisted therapy compared to the one that did not receive this therapy (Kathie Cole, Anna. Gawlinski, Neil Steers and Jenny Kotleman, 2007).

Obstacles Interaction Man-Pet

Currently the possibilities of interaction with animals in this society are increasingly scarce. Thanks to the industrialization and urbanization that has occurred in recent times, people have less and less space to share with nature, and of course, there is an obvious decrease in space and time that could be shared with pets. In addition to this the company with animals are banned in places where their utility is greater as are hospitals, educational institutions, among others.

Other possible obstacles to such interventions associated with animals include zoonotic infections (infections that can pass from animals to humans). Within the strategies to avoid these zoonotic infections we find good hand washing and the development of guidelines that include adequate health criteria for patients and animals, infection control practices, among others. Thanks to the possible zoonotic infections produced by the pet-man interaction, studies have been conducted that have shown a low frequency of these in patients receiving animal-assisted therapy. This makes it clear that the beneficial effect prevails over the possible adverse events resulting from this relationship.

For some patients, pets may be a source of stress or they may be indifferent. Which would mean more prejudices than benefits for patients. Those who identify pets as a source of stress would increase the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, while for those pets are indifferent, they could provide a source of infection.

Perspective

The benefit of mental and physical health has been demonstrated, but there are still more studies to be able to reach an objective conclusion of the real benefits of pets. Important points to be discussed in subsequent research would be the magnitude and type of benefits obtained from human interaction with animals, the population that would mainly benefit, as well as the implications in the public health of communities and cultures. These studies require the interaction of various branches among which are psychology, veterinary medicine, biology, law, medicine. Which makes an interdisciplinary study necessary.

In existing studies, they have demonstrated the beneficial effect of pets on reducing stress managed by people; but no studies have been done in which the possibility of pets themselves becoming a source of stress for patients is evaluated. In addition to this, the physiological implications of the disappearance of the link created between the pet and the owner in terms of lost situations have not been evaluated.

The association between pets and cardiovascular diseases has proven beneficial in the few studies that have been conducted throughout history. This beneficial effect is predominantly in the psychosocial aspect, but at the same time it is evidenced at the biological level. Not all pets can have a beneficial effect on the hemodynamic figures of the patient, it must be a pet that has a sentimental bond with its owner. Although pets are a mechanism attached to treatment with very beneficial drugs, pharmacological treatment can never be replaced by pets.

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Pet Is a Good Companion for Your Heart. (2022, December 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/pet-is-a-good-companion-for-your-heart/
“Pet Is a Good Companion for Your Heart.” Edubirdie, 15 Dec. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/pet-is-a-good-companion-for-your-heart/
Pet Is a Good Companion for Your Heart. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/pet-is-a-good-companion-for-your-heart/> [Accessed 23 Jun. 2024].
Pet Is a Good Companion for Your Heart [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 15 [cited 2024 Jun 23]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/pet-is-a-good-companion-for-your-heart/
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