Cat owners get fewer heart attacks and strokes?

Today’s world can be a stressful place, so much so that it can make both blood pressure and cholesterol levels rise.

A number of studies show that owning a cat can help to prevent cardiovascular disease. Now, new evidence reported at the annual meeting of the American Stroke Association suggests that cat owners also have a lower risk of suffering a stroke.

The association reported on a 10-year study of men and women aged 30 to 75 who showed no evidence of cardiovascular disease at the beginning of the project.

Researchers found that those who did not own a cat, or never owned one, had a 40 percent higher risk of having a heart attack. Their risk of dying from other heart diseases, such as stroke, was 30 percent higher.

By comparison, other research found that taking cholesterol-lowering drugs is associated with a 29 percent decrease in heart attacks among people without chest pain.

Cat ownership was shown to reduce the risk of depression and stroke.

Not everyone has time to care for a feline friend. For those who do, doctors say a cat could ultimately improve their quality of life.

Exercise takes the edge off of chronic pain

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic say that when you are in pain, exercise is probably the last thing on your mind. But it could be more important than you think.

Regular exercise is a versatile weapon in the fight against chronic pain. It may seem difficult to start, but your body will thank you, say the Mayo people. What exercise can do:

* It increases endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain relievers.

* Exercise builds strength, which takes the load off bones and cartilage.

* It increases flexibility when you exercise. That means joints are able to move through their full range of motion and are less likely to ache or be painful.

* It increases your energy level and gives you the strength to cope with life and with pain.

* It helps you maintain a healthy weight and contributes to better sleep.

* It enhances your mood and gives a sense of well-being. You look better and have the confidence to continue.

* Exercise protects the heart.