Despite the pharmaceutical commercials that proclaim “ask your doctor if your heart is healthy enough for sex” – for the average person, no matter their age, sexual activity is not a risk factor for myocardial infarction. To the contrary, an active, satisfying sex life well into old age has been associated with positive outcomes like less depression, more connection to society, and better sleeping patterns.
According to Inverse, an article published in the peer-reviewed medical journal, the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, sex is not only harmless, but it is preferable that men who have survived one heart attack go on to have normal, healthy sex lives rather than remain celibate. The risks of celibacy are actually greater to a person with a heart attack history than having sex is.
The reasons for this are complex and linked to “feel good” chemicals in the brain that may affect biomarkers that contribute, or detract, from heart disease. Just the same, it’s definitely a concern of many couples out there – can they safely resume sexual intercourse? While one should always check with their personal physician and discuss other medical problems that may exist, the research showed an negative correlation between sex and heart attack. That means that for most people, not only is it ok, they should have sex and enjoy it without concern.
The truth is, having sex is not overly strenuous, researchers found. It’s comparable to climbing two flights of stairs or taking a brisk walk. For most people, that’s exactly the type of activity that occurs in cardiac rehabilitation, or the rehab that people undergo to strengthen their cardiovascular system after experiencing a myocardial infarction.
Dietrich Rothenbacher, lead author and chair of the Institute of Epidemiology and Medical Biometry at Ulm University, said that there is no reason at all to fear sex and instead, people should view it as heart-healthy activity.
“It is important to reassure patients that they need not be worried and should resume their usual sexual activity.”
This is important information because many doctors never mention the topic and many patients are too shy to ask, but doctors do care about your sexual health, according to Live Science. It’s up to both parties to keep an open line of communication about all risk factors for heart attack, including exercise and sexual activity.
There is one caveat that should be mentioned, however. Men (and now women, as there is a female “Viagra” pill,) as reported last month by the Inquisitr, need to be careful when taking nitrates such as nitroglycerin and erection-producing medications such as Viagra or Cialis. That is because these medications may cause a very dangerous drop in blood pressure when taken simultaneously. It’s always prudent to remind your doctor of all the medications you take and how they interact, and to especially let health providers know if you have recently taken Viagra, Cialis, or similar and are now experiencing chest pain. Doing so may prevent a fatal outcome.
Besides those small considerations, remember that anything that brings you feelings of happiness, connectedness to other humans, and a sense of being wanted, is good for your mind – and ultimately good for your heart.
[Image by Getty]