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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2019

Dog ownership and cardiovascular risk factors: a nationwide prospective register-based cohort study

Mubanga, Mwenya; Byberg, Liisa; Egenvall, Agneta; Sundstrom, Johan; Magnusson, Patrik Karl Erik; Ingelsson, Erik; Fall, Tove


Objective To study the association between dog ownership and cardiovascular risk factors.Design A nationwide register-based cohort study and a cross-sectional study in a subset.Setting A cohort of 2 026 865 participants was identified from the Register of the Total Population and linked to national registers for information on dog ownership, prescribed medication, hospital admissions, education level, income and country of birth. Participants were followed from 1 October, 2006, to the end of the study on 31 December, 2012, assessing medication for a cardiovascular risk factor, emigration and death. Cross-sectional associations were further assessed in 10 110 individuals from the TwinGene study with additional adjustment for professional level, employment status, Charlson comorbidity index, disability and tobacco use.Participants All Swedish residents aged 45-80 years on 1 October, 2006.Main outcome measures Initiation of medication for hypertension, dyslipidaemia and diabetes mellitus.Results After adjustment for confounders, the results indicated slightly higher likelihood of initiating antihypertensive (HR, 1.02; 95% CI, 1.01 to 1.03) and lipid-lowering treatment (HR, 1.02; 95% CI, 1.01 to 1.04) in dog owners than in non-owners, particularly among those aged 45-60 years and in those owning mixed breed or companion/toy breed dogs. No association of dog ownership with initiation of treatment for diabetes was found in the overall analysis (HR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.95 to 1.01). Sensitivity analyses in the TwinGene cohort indicated confounding of the association between dog ownership and prevalent treatment for hypertension, dyslipidaemia and diabetes mellitus, respectively, from factors not available in the national cohort, such as employment status and non cardiovascularchronic disease status.Conclusions In this large cohort study, dog ownership was associated with a minimally higher risk of initiation of treatment for hypertension and dyslipidaemia implying that the previously reported lower risk of cardiovascular mortality among dog owners in this cohort is not explained by reduced hypertension and dyslipidaemia. These observations may suffer from residual confounding despite access to multiple important covariates, and future studies may add valuable information.

Published in

BMJ open
2019, Volume: 9, number: 3, article number: e023447

      SLU Authors

      Sustainable Development Goals

      SDG3 Good health and well-being

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology

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