People who own dogs or cats may have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston found having a dog or cat in one's life was associated with beneficial cardiovascular effects, including increased, physical activity, and lower systemic blood pressure.

The investigators noted two randomized trials in their evaluation. One of them studied 30 people with borderline hypertension who either adopted a dog from a shelter or deferred adoption.

At 2 and 5 months follow-up, the group that adopted dogs had significantly lower systolic blood pressure. When all participants had adopted a dog, the drop in blood pressure was similar between the two groups.