It may be a common dramatic device in movies for people to drop dead of heart attack in the middle of having passionate sex, but the reality, according to a new report from the American Heart Association, is that sex is not likely to send you into cardiac arrest—unless you are a man who's cheating on his wife, in which case, watch out.
A new paper from the AHA found that having sex is totally safe for most patients being treated for heart disease, except when that sex is being had by a man engaging in an extramarital affair. The research showed that sex was responsible for less than one percent of heart attacks and less than 5 percent of cases of chest pain. But sex that involved cheating on a spouse did increases the risk of sudden cardiac arrest for men.
Cheating aside, cardiologist Peter Alagona, co-director of the Penn State Hershey Heart and Vascular Institute's Cardiac Rehabilitation Program in Pennsylvania, said it's important that patients know that sex is safe for them and that part of returning to their normal lives after heart disease should include resuming their sex lives. He says, "It's good physically, it's good emotionally. What we need to encourage people to use is common sense."
Glenn Levine, a professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and the paper's lead author, says that in terms of exertion, sex is roughly the same as climbing two flights of stairs, meaning it's safe for most people with cardiac disease, regardless of age or type of disease. Levine's researchers review more than 100 studies to establish the risks involved with sex. The findings on the danger of extramarital sex came from a review of autopsy reports:
In autopsy reports of 5,559 cases of sudden death, 0.6 percent occurred during sexual intercourse, they found. Of those who died, 82 percent to 93 percent were men and 75 percent were having extramarital sex, in most cases with a younger partner and after excessive food and alcohol consumption.
Levine advises to putting too much emphasis on the risk of cheating, since the autopsy sample was relatively small. Still, maybe this is some kind of warning from the universe that you shouldn't be getting wasted and cheating on your wife…
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