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Created: April 18, 2003
Latest Update: June 24, 2004

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Site Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors, April 2003.
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Increasingly, it is difficult to provide the care and attention that most extended family members need. Fast track schedules, ever increasing driving conundrums, and longer and longer working hours just to keep up are resulting in fewer and fewer women or men, for that matter, having the leisure to stay at home and care for daily living needs. Fast foods, merry maids, in-home health support are becoming a way of life for many of us.

Right along with that goes a fairly constant increase in stress. Take the stress test at Wellnessnet.com. Note particularly the reasons for adjustments (after you've taken the initial test.) This is a good example of how to allow for the non-flexibility of paper and pencil tests and perceptions of how we feel. Compare them to the interpretations for Harvard's Implicit Association Test.

After heart attack, patient's pet may help heart

Mar 28, 2003 (Reuters Health) - Chalk up one more potential attribute of the family pooch -- a new study suggests that after a heart attack, pet owners have healthier hearts than heart attack patients who don't have a dog, cat or other pet.

According to a report in The American Journal of Cardiology, Dr. Erika Friedmann and colleagues compared heart rate variability among a group of 102 patients who had a heart attack in the past two years, including 35 patients who owned a pet.

Heart rate variability is a measure of the heart's ability to handle stress. A reduction in heart rate variability is linked to a higher risk of heart disease and death.

Friedmann, who is with Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, and her team found that certain heart rate variability measures were higher in pet owners -- particularly dog owners -- than non-owners.

While studies have found a lower heart rate variability in depressed people than in those without depression, this did not explain the findings.

More research is needed to see if the improved heart rate variability in pet owners is due to some psychological factor or exercise that patients might get from walking their pet, according to Dr. Richard Stein, a spokesman for American Heart Association.

The study offers a "cute observation," said Stein, "but it does not provide enough evidence to recommend that heart attack patients go out and get a dog."

SOURCE: The American Journal of Cardiology 2003;91:718-721.

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