Heart Attack Survivors, Rejoice: Sex Is Still Okay for Some

New study finds sex is safe for many heart attack survivors.

German researchers studied more than 500 heart attack survivors, men and women, over a 10-year period. Patients who had sex at least once weekly had no higher risk of having a heart attack than those having no sex at all. On the contrary, these friskier patients tended to be healthier.

The study was published Monday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Traditionally, the concern among some doctors -– and many patients and their partners –- has been that sex after heart attack might trigger another cardiac event; however, the new findings suggest that this is unlikely. Moreover, the vast majority of heart attacks seen in the study did not even occur within 24 hours of having sex.

The study’s lead investigator Dr. Dietrich Rothenbacher told ABC News the study’s message is clear: “Don’t be afraid – at work or in the bedroom.”

The study supports findings from numerous studies over the past decade, said Dr. Steven Nissen, chair of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. Nissen said that because of this growing body of evidence, he does not put limitations on patients who feel that they are able to have sex.

But he said the issue of whether sex actually improves these patients’ health is still up for debate.

“It is a bit of a chicken and egg situation,” Nissen said, adding that it is not yet clear whether these health benefits exist –- or if healthier heart attack survivors are just having more frequent sex than those who are worse off.

Doctor’s Take:

Dr. Nicholas A Piazza is an Internal Medicine Resident Physician at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, NC.