Study: Pets curb dangerous rises in blood pressure
Studies show that owning a pet can dramatically reduce stress levels
November 8, 1999
Web posted at: 12:05 a.m. EST (0505 GMT)
From staff and wire reports
ATLANTA (CNN) -- Purring cats and playful pups can provide
more than companionship. They can significantly reduce
stress-related increases in blood pressure, even among people
with highly demanding jobs, scientists said Sunday at an
American Heart Association meeting.
Researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo,
studying 48 stockbrokers already taking a medication called
Lycinprol for hypertension, found that those who obtained a
pet reduced by half the increase in blood pressure that came
Psychologist Karen Allen, a principal researcher along with
Dr. Joe Izzo, said the medication and pets complement each
other well medically.
"Lycinprol treats high blood pressure. It brings it down at
rest, where pets are treating, or you could call it taming,
our responses to stress, and they work together," Allen said.
Half the stockbrokers were given a pet. Six months later the
researchers put the entire group in simulated stressful
situations. Study subjects were asked to tackle challenges
like talking their way out of a shoplifting charge or calming
a client who had lost $86,000 because of the stockbroker's
"Those who had pets went from 120 to 126 for systolic blood
pressure. Those who had no pets went from 120 to about 148,"
Pets best, spouses worse to help with tests
When it comes to stressful verbal or math tests, Allen said a
pet calms people much more than having the other half around.
"The spouse is the worst person to be there. The pet is the
best," she said.
The researchers said the benefits were equally good for men
and women stockbrokers, regardless of whether they have a dog
or a cat.
One Atlanta stockbroker has done plenty of informal research
on the subject.
"You lean over and pet an animal like this," said Ed Mosley,
demonstrating with one of his two best canine friends, Bob
and Casey. "It's so happy. You look after him, and he looks
after you. It's just kind of a wonderful, calming sensation."
Correspondent Holly Firfer and Reuters contributed to this report.
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