Can Lovemaking Really Stop Your Heart?

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Can Lovemaking Really Stop Your Heart?

The TV trope actually carries very little risk

By Working Nurse
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You’ve seen it on countless TV shows: Some character, usually an older man, drops dead of a heart attack during an intimate moment. Is that really a danger? A recent study set out to investigate.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Like many forms of vigorous exertion, sex can significantly increase the risk of heart attack. In fact, a 2011 JAMA study concluded that sexual activity can triple a patient’s relative risk.

But what about the lethal, sex-induced sudden cardiac arrests (SCAs) so beloved of TV scriptwriters? A study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, published in November, finds that such SCAs do happen, but they appear to be very rare.

Partner CPR

Television is right in one respect: Most of the cases the researchers found were men, with an average age of 60.3. However, of the 4,557 cases of SCA recorded over a 13-year period in the metropolitan area studied (Portland, Ore.), only 34 occurred during or within an hour of sex — 0.7 percent. 

“The risk is very small,” says lead author Sumeet Chugh, M.D., associate director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. A bigger concern is that partners may be too startled, embarrassed or otherwise reluctant to perform CPR. Of the 34 patients who did suffer SCA during sex, only 11 received CPR from a bystander.

More is Better!

Heart disease patients should discuss with their doctors whether to abstain from sex, especially while recovering from a previous heart attack. However, for some patients, the best way to reduce the risk may be more sex rather than less.

As the 2011 JAMA study notes, the more frequently a patient engages in a particular form of physical exercise, the less that activity affects the patient’s heart attack risk. For SCA, regularly having sex twice a week is about 30 percent less risky than doing it only once. 

So, go ahead and enjoy an amorous — and heart-healthy — Valentine’s Day!

 

This article is from workingnurse.com.

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