Time.com reports, "A panel of heart disease experts convened by the American Heart Association (AHA) reviewed research linking heart health and owning a pet and found that owning a pet is ‘probably associated’ with a lower risk of heart disease for those without a history of heart problems, and with greater survival rates among heart disease patients."
It should be noted that when the AHA says "pet," they are primarily referring to a cat or dog.
This is good news if you already own a pet but note the "probably" in the AHA statement—this means that getting or having a pet is not a cure for heart disease. The AHA also observed that pet owners are not less likely to be overweight either.
But here is the good news about these findings: having a cat or dog can help reduce your chances of heart disease if being a pet owner makes you more active. Even if you aren't a pet owner but you walk someone else's dog on a regular basis, you are getting beneficial exercise. It is also possible that owning a pet can help increase your levels of anti-stress hormones and reducing stress helps your heart.
There is a study that found that people with dogs as pets saw their blood pressure lower and adults in a different survey were "54% more likely to get recommended levels of exercise and be active than non-dog owners."
This research does not mean you need to run out and get a dog or cat. After all, there are a lot of people who feed a pet but don't interact with their pet very much. If you already have a pet, make sure you are taking advantage of its companionship to get more exercise and lower stress levels.