Pet's Presence and Owner's Blood Pressures during the Daily Lives of Pet Owners with Pre- to Mild Hypertension

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Abstract:

As the population ages the number of older adults living with hypertension (HTN) is rising dramatically. Uncontrolled HTN increases cardiovascular and renal mortality. Ambulatory (A) blood pressure (BP) is a better predictor of HTN-related morbidity and mortality than office BP. Lower BP is the most important therapeutic goal in treating HTN. Any reduction in BP has significant benefits for older adults. The current study was designed to evaluate the impact of the presence of pet dogs and cats on ABP during the daily lives of independently living, older pet owners with pre- to mild HTN. A repeated measures observational study of ABP of 32 pet owners (21 dogs, 8 cats, 3 cat and dog; 29 women) aged 50–83 years with BP 120–150/80–100 mmHg or < 150/100 with anti-hypertensive medication was conducted. Owner's ABPs were recorded every 20 minutes for one day during waking hours at study entry, one month, and three months. Activity monitors and diaries were used to obtain information about activity, mood, and whether the pet and/or another person was present in the room (indoors) or in close proximity (outdoors) with the owner at each assessment. Generalized estimating equation (GEE) analyses for hierarchical data (unstructured correlations) were performed for systolic and diastolic ABP. Mean ABPs were significantly (systolic BP/diastolic BP: dog p = 0.008/ p = 0.002; cat p < 0.009/ p < 0.001) different (systolic BP/diastolic BP mmHg: dog 3.1/1.5; cat –3.0/2.2) when pets were present after controlling for participant's mood (p > 0.05/ p < 0.001), activity intensity (p = 0.026/ p = 0.441), location (p = 0.013/ p = 0.004), and the presence of other people (p = 0.947/ p = 0.723). The presence of a dog was associated with lower systolic and diastolic BP and of a cat was associated with lower diastolic BP and higher systolic BP during their owners' normal daily lives. This finding suggests that pets, especially dogs, may be effective as an adjunctive intervention to slow the development or progression of HTN in older adults. Comparison of ABPs of pet owners with non-owners during their daily lives is warranted and underway.
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  • Anthrozoos is the journal of the International Society for Anthrozoology and is a vital forum for academic dialogue on human-animal relations. It is a quarterly, peer-reviewed journal that has enjoyed a distinguished history as a pioneer in the field since its launch in 1987. The key premise of Anthrozoos is to address the characteristics and consequences of interactions and relationships between people and non-human animals across areas as varied as anthropology, ethology, medicine, psychology, veterinary medicine and zoology. Articles therefore cover the full range of human animal relations, from their treatment in the arts and humanities, through to behavioral, biological, social and health sciences..

    Fast Track articles are uncorrected proofs of articles that have yet to be published in an issue.

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