Masahiko Motooka's specialty is cardiovascular endocrinology.
In this research project, he has designed a trial program in which the
approach is to adapt animal-assisted therapy (AAT) to auxiliary home therapy
for patients who have suffered cardiac infarction, with an emphasis on
creating a therapeutic program that is easy for patients to adopt. The
research into AAT involved a comparison between dog owners and subjects
without dogs. It was reported that the survival rate was higher one year
after surgery for dog owners, and that dog ownership helps prevent and
slow the progress of heart disease.
Unfortunately, few facilities for patients with chronic cardiac infarction
accept the introduction of AAT, and in many cases it has not been successfully
carried out. Given these circumstances, Mr. Motooka's research holds out
a great deal of hope for patients with ischemic heart disease (IHD), as
well as those suffering from high blood pressure.
The research included an animal-mediated test centered around walking
activity. After 10 minutes of rest, subjects walked for 20 minutes, and
then rested for another 15 minutes. Initially, the blood pressure, pulse
and heart function of healthy subjects averaging 63 years in age were
measured over three repetitions of this course of activity. Next, chronic
cardiac infarction patients averaging 66 years in age were put through
the course, and their blood pressure, pulse and heart function was also
"These test results indicated that in both dog-mediated walking and
non-dog-mediated walking, both healthy subjects and patients experienced
significant suppression of the sympathetic nervous system that increased
in correlation with repetition of the activity, as well as significant
activation of the parasympathetic nervous system.
"Whereas walking without the mediation of dogs caused stress in the
cardiac patients, dog-mediated walking helped them relax. Cardiac patients
also experienced a lower frequency of irregular heart rhythms while walking
with dogs than they did while at rest. From these results, we anticipate
that the consistent practice of exercise therapy with pets will make it
possible to improve the prognosis for chronic myocardial infarction patients.
In the future, we would like to increase the reliability of this research
by increasing the number of experimental cases."