Having sex doesn’t trigger heart attacks, study suggests

Just 3 of 438 heart attack patients had been sexually active in the previous hour

kissing couple

SAFE SEX  Having sex doesn’t seem to trigger heart attacks, or put people at risk for other cardiovascular problems, such as stroke, a new study suggests.

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Sex: It’s just what the doctor ordered. For heart disease patients, at least.

Sexual activity probably doesn’t trigger many heart attacks, scientists report September 21 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. In fact, the study’s authors say, the benefits seem to outweigh the risk.

Dietrich Rothenbacher and colleagues at Ulm University in Germany analyzed sexual history data from 438 patients who had suffered a heart attack. In the hour before an attack, only 0.7 percent of patients — 3 people — had been sexually active.

Next, the team followed patients for 10 years and tallied up which people were struck by further cardiovascular woes, such as heart attacks or strokes. People who were sexually active at least once per week were no more likely to suffer additional incidents than people who were less active.

Given the new findings, the researchers conclude, doctors should tell heart attack patients it’s OK to hit the sheets.

Meghan Rosen is a staff writer who reports on the life sciences for Science News. She earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology with an emphasis in biotechnology from the University of California, Davis, and later graduated from the science communication program at UC Santa Cruz.

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