27 May 2011

Heart-stopping sex

You've seen it in the movies, but what exactly are the chances of dying from a heart attack while having sex really?


We’ve seen it in the movies and laughed at the jokes. Some of us may even consider it a rather pleasurable way to die. But what exactly are the chances of dying from a heart attack while having sex really?

Answers to the question of whether sexual intercourse can cause heart attacks have generally been quite confusing for the average person in the street. Let me clear up matters once and for all. The answer is yes. And no.

You see, while sex can most certainly trigger a heart attack, the chances of it happening are very, very slim.

A recent study

A meta-study surveying previous research on this topic was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in March. The authors found that sexual intercourse can indeed trigger dangerous cardiac events and sudden heart attacks and that the chances of these happening are dramatically increased for as much as two hours after sex, especially for people with less than active sex lives. Interestingly they found that emotional factors and not just physical ones may also contribute to the risk of suffering a heart attack during sex.

It’s enough to turn you off sex altogether, right?!

Well it shouldn’t. While sex can clearly lead to heart attacks, the researchers found that it’s actually extremely rare. Your chances of having a heart attack increase from about one in a million without sex to just three in a million with sex.

Actually, sex is good for your heart

The recent review is pretty much in agreement with previous studies, including one conducted by scientists from Harvard University in 1996 and a Swedish study from 2001: sex does increase the risk of heart attack, but the risk itself is exceedingly small.

It’s been shown that sex is less likely to trigger a heart attack than breathing polluted city smog, drinking coffee or alcohol, or eating a heavy meal. The most common underlying reason why people die of cardiac arrest is coronary artery disease in which fatty build-ups in one or more artery lead to restricted blood supply to the heart muscle.

Far from putting you off sex, scientific research should encourage you to have more. Regular sex has been shown to lead to a healthy level of heart endurance. People who have sex frequently - around twice a week - are up to 45% less likely to develop life-threatening heart conditions. So if anyone tells you that there’s no connection between sex and the matters of the heart, they clearly don’t know what they’re talking about.

If your sex life’s been rather sedentary of late, you’d better get back into the swing of it. But don’t jump to it too vigorously to start with. Increase the intensity and length of your lovemaking gradually to let your heart steadily build up its fitness and stamina.

(Andrew Luyt, Health24, May 2011)

Read more:

Heart condition centre

Heart attack warning signs


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