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Petting one's dog or providing a furry companion with a tasty treat may not only bring comfort and relief to man's best friend—it could also do a world of good for the owner.


Analysis performed by the University of Maryland found that among a group of pet owners over the age of 50 who were diagnosed with low to mild levels of hypertension, blood pressure readings tended to be lower when the dogs were present.

"This is the first study to examine blood pressure under normal living conditions with animals present," said Erika Friedmann, professor at the University of Maryland. "It allowed us to evaluate the real-time impact of companion animals in their owners' daily lives."

Friedmann added that this latest data supports an ever-increasing amount of research suggesting pet ownership pays many health dividends.

The textbook definition of hypertension is having a blood pressure reading above 140/90 mmHg for a consistent period of time. Approximately 76 million Americans are currently diagnosed with hypertension, according to the American Heart Association. Hypertension significantly raises one's risk for a heart attack and/or stroke.