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Occasional sex and exercise boosts risk of heart attack, death

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Heart attack risk

Sporadic sex and exercise bad for the heart

Sex and exercise are heart healthy, but according to a new report, occasional sexual or exercise activity increases the chances of having a heart attack and sudden death.

Researchers from Tufts Medical Center in Boston warn the chances of heart attack and death is higher within two hours after sex or exercise for those who don't stay active on a regular basis.

Regular exercise protects the heart

Issa Dahabreh, MD, and Jessica Paulus, ScD from Tufts explain regular exercise can protect the heart from acute coronary events that might occur from sporadically engaging in physical activity.

According to the researchers, the chances of heart attack or death was highest in an analysis of studies "for those individuals who were unaccustomed to regular exercise."

Analysis of heart risks from occasional sex and exercise

The report, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found 14 cases of sudden cardiac death or heart attack linked to sporadic sex and exercise.

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Among those, myocardial infarction was the outcome in 10 instances, acute coronary syndrome in one, and sudden cardiac death in 3 cases.

The risk of heart attack was three fold for individuals who only exercise occasionally, with a 2.70 higher chance of myocardial infarction associated with sporadic sexual activity

For those who don't engage in regular physical activity, exercising raised the chances of sudden cardiac death (SCD) five-fold. Regular physical exercise reduces the relative risk of heart attack from sporadic exercise by 45 percent.

The study authors say their findings should not be interpreted to mean people shouldn't exercise or have sex and note the risk is small.

The analysis shows "temporary short-term increase in the risk of acute cardiac events" from sporadic sex and physical activity." The authors say the chances of heart attack and sudden cardiac death from occasional physical activity can be reduced by engaging in regular physical activity.

JAMA 2011;305[12]:1225-1233
"Occasional Physical, Sexual Activity Associated With Short-Term Increased Risk of Heart Attack, Cardiac Death, Although Absolute Risk Is Small"