Although most survivors of heart attacks tend to be wary about being sexually active afterward, so as to not over exert themselves, new research published this week by the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), suggests that resuming sexual activity actually has more benefits than harms.
The Tel Aviv study “examined whether resumption of sexual activity shortly after hospitalization for a first heart attack was associated with survival over more than two decades,” according to a news release from the ESC. The researchers analyzed data from 500 sexually active people aged 65 and younger who were hospitalized for a heart attack in 1992 or 1993.
According to the news release, the examined patients had a median age of 53 and were about 90% male. About 43% of patients died in the next 22 years, but those who maintained or increased their levels of sexual activity in the first six months of recovery had a 35% lower risk of death than those who reduced their frequency of sex or avoided it entirely.
The researchers noted that the association between sexual activity and improved survival was “mostly attributable to a reduction in non-cardiovascular mortality such as cancer.”
“Sexuality and sexual activity are the markers of well-being,” Yariv Gerber, lead researcher and head of the School of Public Health at Tel Aviv University, said in the release.
“Resumption of sexual activity soon after a heart attack may be a part of one’s self-perception as a healthy, functioning, young and energetic person. This may lead to a healthier lifestyle generally.”
Gerber “noted that the low proportion of women and relatively young age of participants may limit the generalizability of the results to females and older individuals,” the release said. “He added that this was an observational study and causation cannot be assumed.”
“Numerous physical and psychosocial health parameters are required for maintaining regular sexual activity,” he said. “In light of this, the net benefit of sexual activity itself is still a matter of debate.”
“These findings should serve to reduce patients’ concerns about returning to their usual level of sexual activity soon after a heart attack.”