Owning a dog could give you a healthy heart, researchers say

Could the key to having a strong heart be as simple as owning a dog?

According to two studies, the answer is yes.

Researchers have found that dog owners have a 24% lower risk of death compared to the general public. They also have a 33% lower risk of death compared to heart attack survivors who live alone, NBC News reported.

>> Read more trending news

Experts said they don't think people realize the health benefits that could come from adopting a dog.

But they warn the results are not enough for doctors to prescribe adopting a dog to lower death risk, NBC News reported.

They did look at the possible reasons why dog ownership is good for heart health.

"We know that loneliness and sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for premature death," study co-author Tove Fall said, according to NBC News. "Dogs are an excellent motivation for their owners to get outdoors and walk them."

Other researchers say dogs can help lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol and reduce the risk of depression, CNN reported. They also agree that dogs get their owners moving and going for walks.

It also has a direct effect on the stress hormone cortisol. Dogs can lower the amount of the hormone.

"When the stress response is turned on too frequently, it leads to a lot of wear and tear on the body in general," Neda Gould, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine said, according to NBC News.

To read more on the studies, visit the journal article Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.