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Sexual Activity Doesn't Seem to Trigger Repeat MI Events

Research shows it equals the level of physical exertion seen for a brisk walk

TUESDAY, Sept. 22, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Many myocardial infarction (MI) survivors are concerned that too much physical activity could trigger a repeat event. But after reviewing data collected on 536 heart disease patients between the ages of 30 and 70, researchers found sexual activity requires about the same amount of exertion as climbing two flights of stairs or taking a brisk walk. The research letter was published in the Sept. 29 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The patients completed questionnaires about their sexual activity. In the months leading up to their MI, 14.9 percent did not have sex during this time, 4.7 percent had sex less than once per month, 25.4 percent had sex less than once a week, and 55 percent had sex at least once weekly. The researchers analyzed the sexual activity the patients experienced in the 12 months before their MI and estimated the link between the frequency of their sexual encounters with future events, such as a fatal MI, a stroke, or cardiovascular death.

During 10 years of follow-up, the researchers found that 100 adverse cardiovascular events occurred among the patients in the study. Sexual activity, however, was not a risk factor for future problems. After evaluating the timing of the last sexual activity before the MI, only 0.7 percent of the participants reported sex within an hour before their MI. More than 78 percent, however, reported that their last sexual activity occurred more than 24 hours before the MI.

"Based on our data, it seems very unlikely that sexual activity is a relevant trigger of heart attack," study author Dietrich Rothenbacher, M.D., M.P.H., chair of the Institute of Epidemiology and Medical Biometry at Ulm University in Germany, said in a news release from the American College of Cardiology. "Less than half of men and less than a third of women are getting information about sexual activity after heart attack from their doctors. It is important to reassure patients that they need not be worried and should resume their usual sexual activity."

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