Returning to regular sexual patterns following a heart attack has been found to boost a person's chances of a long and healthy life.
A new study published on Wednesday in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology stated that after recovering from a heart attack, survivors increased their long-term survival rates.
The activity helps the survivor view themselves as "healthy functioning, young, and energetic," said the study's author, Professor Yariv Gerber of Tel Aviv University in Israel, in a press release.
Exercise, and health
The study did caution, however, that "vigorous physical exertion," under which sex falls under, can have the opposite effect and, in fact, lead to a heart attack. This is one of the main reasons why people recovering from a (non-sexually-related) heart attack hesitate to get back under the sheets with their loved one.
However, Gerber pointed out that for those who exercise regularly, there should be no fear of another heart attack occurring.
The team analyzed results of 495 sexually-active participants aged 65 or under over a two-decade period who had been hospitalized in the early 1990s. The average age of the participants was 53, and 90% of them were male.
The participants' sexual activity was collected over a period of time, and the study noted that of those who returned to regular sexual activities within six months of recovery, they had a 35% lower chance of dying soon than those who abstained.
Gerber and his team noted that the act of sex itself isn't what necessarily boosts the participants' health, rather it is the psychological effects linked to it. Getting back into action helped participants to "bounce back" more quickly as they felt happier, more connected, and improved their physical fitness. Sex is a sport, after all.
However, "On the other hand, patients who perceive their health as poor might be less likely to start having sex again," explained Gerber.
"They may also be less likely to adhere to cancer screening tests and other prevention practices during follow-up. This may explain the strong inverse association between the resumption of sexual activity and cancer mortality that was seen in our study."
During their research, of the 495 participants, 211 died within the next 22 years for reasons not strictly associated with their initial heart attack, many died due to cancer, for example.
The study also pointed out that even though returning to sexual activity soon after a heart attack recovery may indeed improve chances of long-term survival, a few matters first need to be considered. For instance, how fit the patient was in the first place.
And as Gerber finally said "These findings should serve to reduce patients’ concerns about returning to their usual level of sexual activity soon after a heart attack."