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Is sexual activity safe when you are at risk of cardiovascular disease?

  • March 27, 2024
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Both a source of physical and emotional pleasure, sexual relations play an important role in everyday life. But are they safe when you are at cardiovascular risk? Interviewed in a television program, a Danish researcher looked into the question.

THE cardiovascular illnesses constitute the leading cause of death in the world, and the second in France after cancer, as indicated by the government site Santé.gouv. When you suffer from it, it is necessary to be even more vigilant regarding your lifestyle in order to best preserve your health. This is why it is often recommended to change certain daily habits, which can give rise to many questions regarding stress management, diet or even sexual activity. Questioned in the television magazine de l’European Society of Cardiology, cardiology researcher Pernille Palm spoke on the issue of sexual activity when suffering from cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular diseases: can they impact the sexual relationships of people who suffer from them?

As the researcher explains in the television show, “A major concern of people with cardiovascular disease is whether sexual activity could trigger a myocardial infarctionor even, cardiac arrest.” However, it indicates that there is no particular danger in having sexual activity if you have a heart condition. Indeed, she cites studies which have shown that the risk of myocardial infarction in a man not having sexual activity would be 1%, while the risk of myocardial infarction for a sexually active man of the same age would be 1.1%. Regarding sudden cardiac death, “the increased risk associated with one hour of sexual activity per week is estimated at one in 10,000 people per year,” underlines the cardiology expert. A risk of adverse event which is therefore very low.

Sexual activity and cardiovascular diseases: are certain patients more at risk?

If sexual activity does not present a danger for people suffering from cardiovascular diseases, the researcher indicates that certain patients are still more at risk. She cites in particular the patients affected by a angina unstable, hypertension uncontrolled, of heart failure class IV or even a myocardial infarction without intervention. Thus, in these specific cases, the researcher informs that “Temporary cessation of their sexual activity is advised until their condition is stabilized.” It is therefore advisable to seek the advice of your cardiologist or your treating physician in order to adapt it on a case-by-case basis based on your history and state of health.

What are the positive effects of sexual activity on the heart?

“Sexual activity is essential for general well-being and quality of life. It also has clear positive effects,” recalls the expert. Indeed, according to her, engaging in sexual activity is equivalent to performing light to moderate physical activity, such as gardening or cleaning floors. The positive effects of sexual relations, particularly for heart patients, are also highlighted by the French Federation of Cardiology, which indicates that “contrary to popular belief, patients with cardiovascular disease can generally pursue regular sexuality and benefit from its protective effect on the heart.” As the Federation points out, the benefits of regular sexual activity are multiple. It notably promotes the production of pleasure hormones such as serotonin and dopamine and has a relaxing and anti-depressant effect. From a cardiovascular point of view, sexual activity “also participates in the elimination of toxins, increases the heart rate, activates blood circulation and strengthens the heart”.

Sources :

  • Episode 11: Heart disease and sexual activity – Rheumatic heart disease – European Society of Cardiology
  • Cardiovascular diseases – Santé.gouv
  • Sexual activity is beneficial for the heart – French Federation of Cardiology

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