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Study: Sex does not increase risk of heart attack

Less than one percent of participants in the study reported having sex within an hour before having a heart attack.

By Stephen Feller
Study: Sex does not increase risk of heart attack
Based on self-reported sexual activity, researchers said the risk of having a first or subsequent heart attack is not increased by having sex. Photo by Kzenon/Shutterstock

ULM, Germany, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Sex is rarely the cause of a heart attack and most patients can resume normal sexual activity after having one, according to a new study.

While having sex is unlikely to cause another heart attack, researchers said that erectile dysfunction can be a side effect of some cardiovascular medications, and drops in blood pressure are a risk of combining heart medication with erectile dysfunction drugs that doctors need to discuss with patients.

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"Based on our data, it seems very unlikely that sexual activity is a relevant trigger of heart attack," said Dr. Dietrich Rothenbacher, a professor and chair of the Institute of Epidemiology and Medical Biometry at Ulm University, in a press release.

Researchers analyzed medical and survey data for 536 people between the ages of 30 and 70 to determine the relationship between their sexual activity and having a heart attack.

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The study's participants self-reported their sexual activity for the previous year: 14.9 percent of patients had no sexual activity in the 12 months before their heart attack; 4.7 percent had sex less than once per month; 25.4 percent reported less than once per week; and 55 percent reported having sex one or more times per week.

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In relation to their heart attacks, only 0.7 percent of participants they'd had sex within an hour before their heart attack and more than 78 percent of participants said they hadn't had sex in at least 24 hours before having the heart attack. Based on this, and a total of 100 adverse cardiovascular events among the participants in 10 years of following up with them, researchers said sexual activity does not appear to be a risk factor for heart attack.

"Less than half of men and less than a third of women are getting information about sexual activity after heart attack from their doctors," Rothenbacher said. "It is important to reassure patients that they need not be worried and should resume their usual sexual activity."

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The study is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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