The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of a 12-minute animal-assisted therapy visit on hemodynamics, neurohormone levels, and anxiety levels in patients hospitalized with advanced heart failure compared with control and volunteer visits. Of the 76 patients randomized to animal-assisted therapy, volunteer visit, or a control group, those who received animal-assisted therapy with a therapy dog demonstrated significantly greater decreases in systolic pulmonary artery pressure, pulmonary capillary wedge pressure, epinephrine levels, norephinephrine levels, and state anxiety scores. The results of the study indicate that animal-assisted therapy can improve cardiopulmonary pressures, neurohormone levels, and anxiety in hospitalized heart failure patients.

Kathie Cole, rn, ms, ccrn, principal investigator on the study, notes that a specific animal-assisted program was developed at the University of California–Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center and that the study sought to assess...

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