Rumor has it that Nelson Rockefeller died of a heart attack in 1979 at age 70 while intimately romancing his secretary. The fate of the former vice president and heir to a family fortune reinforced the idea that sex is dangerous for someone with heart problems.
In the past, doctors explicitly told their patients that sexual activity could lead to heart attacks. However, a new study suggests that sexual activity actually improves the prognosis for people with a history of heart attacks.
The study, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, is based on nearly 500 healthy adults (mostly men, average age 53) with a history of heart attacks.
The researchers found that maintaining or increasing the frequency of sexual activity within the first six months after a heart attack was associated with a 35% lower risk of death compared to those who abstained from or reduced sexual activity after a heart attack.
What's the link between sexual activity and improved health?
Sex helps a person regain muscle tone (including the heart muscle) and lower blood pressure, just as moderate exercise or a walking routine does. Plus, it improves feelings of well-being and overall mental health.
The American Heart Association says that if you can exercise hard enough to work up a light sweat without triggering symptoms, it's safe to have sex.
You can also have your doctor give you a stress test to put you at ease.
Don't deny yourself the improved health and joy that a mutually enjoyable sexual relationship can bring back to your life after a heart attack.