Something to purr about: cats reduce heart attack risk

A U.S. study suggests having a cat at home could cut your heart attack risk by almost a third.

A U.S. study suggests having a cat at home could cut your risk of a heart attack by almost a third.

The finding suggests that the stress relief pets provide to humans is heart-healthy.

Researchers analyzed data on more than 4,400 Americans, age 30 to 75, who took part in the U.S. government's second National Health and Nutrition Examination Study, which ran from 1976 to 1980. 

A little more than half of the study participants either owned a cat or had owned a cat in the past while the rest had never done so.

Researchers tracked the rates of death in the entire group from all causes, including heart and stroke.

The cat owners had a 30 per cent reduction in heart attack risk than participants who didn't own cats, said the study's lead author, Dr. Adnan Qureshi of the Minnesota Stroke Institute.

But dog lovers shouldn't feel left out, he stressed.

Dogs would probably bring people the same kind of benefit, Qureshi said, but the numbers of dog owners in the study wasn't big enough to count statistically.