Most patients can safely go back to having regular sex after a heart attack, experts say. And chances are, sexual activity will not trigger another heart attack.
A team of German scientists published these conclusions in a research letter in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology last September.
The topic is often a concern for heart patients, but sexual activity is usually the equivalent of a brisk walk or climbing two flights of stairs, the letter noted.
The group studied 536 heart disease patients between the ages of 30 and 70. The participants answered questions about their sexual activity in the twelve months before their heart attack. The patients were then followed for ten years.
Almost fifteen percent of the patients did not have sex in the year before their heart attack. About 5% had had sex less than once per month. A quarter reported sexual activity of less than once a week. Fifty-five percent had sex at least once a week during that the time period.
Less than one percent of the patients said they had sex within an hour of their heart attack. Almost 80% didn’t have sex within the previous day.
“Based on our data, it seems very unlikely that sexual activity is a relevant trigger of heart attack,” said lead author Dr. Dietrich Rothenbacher in a press release. Dr. Rothenbacher is a professor and chair of the Institute of Epidemiology and Medical Biometry at Ulm University in Germany.
Overall, the patients had 100 adverse cardiovascular events over the next ten years. However, these events were not associated with sexual activity, the researchers said.
“Less than half of men and less than a third of women are getting information about sexual activity after heart attack from their doctors. It is important to reassure patients that they need not be worried and should resume their usual sexual activity,” Dr. Rothenbacher remarked.
Patients with erectile dysfunction (ED) should be aware that ED drugs cannot be taken with heart medications that contain nitrates. Combining these drugs can cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure.
American College of Cardiology
“Sex Does Not Increase Heart Attack Risk”
(Press release. September 21, 2015)
“Heart Attack Shouldn't End Your Sex Life”
(September 21, 2015)
Journal of the American College of Cardiology
Rothenbacher, Dietrich, MD, MPH, et al.
“Sexual Activity Patterns Before Myocardial Infarction and Risk of Subsequent Cardiovascular Adverse Events”
(Preview. September 2015)
“Having Sex is Safe After a Previous Heart Attack, Study Suggests”
(September 23, 2015)