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Can sex with my partner trigger a heart attack?

Can sex with my partner trigger a heart attack?
Sunday, Aug 26, 2012
The Business Times
By Dr Michael Lim

A flood of questions arose following my earlier article on sex and the heart, making it necessary to address unanswered issues related to those with underlying heart disease. While the past focus was on the risk of getting a stroke or a heart attack with sex, my current focus will be on managing sex for those with heart disease.

Heart attack and sex

While data from multiple research trials shows that heart attacks are more likely to occur during sexual activity than at rest, for those who have sex more frequently or who are physically fit, this likelihood is less compared to someone who is desk-bound or a potato couch.

When your doctor tells you that you have significant narrowing of one of your heart arteries, this doesn't spell the end of your sex life. If you are able to walk briskly for 10 minutes without developing chest pain or becoming excessively short of breath, sex with your regular partner will usually not be a problem.

Should the blockage be severe and involve the origin of the left heart arteries (left main artery) or the initial segment of the key artery supplying the main pumping chamber of the heart (proximal left anterior descending artery), a proper discussion with the doctor is necessary as a heart attack involving these arteries is associated with a high risk of sudden death. For these individuals, the risk remains relatively low if chest pain is absent during brisk walking.

Sex after a heart attack

After an uncomplicated heart attack, sexual activity can be resumed if the individual can walk briskly without symptoms. If, however, chest pain or shortness of breath occurs with minimal exertion, sex should be avoided till the heart condition is stabilised. Generally , the risk of death from sex after a heart attack remains small. For those who have suffered a heart attack previously, an hour of physical sexual engagement can increase the risk of a recurrent heart attack or death from 10 chances in 1 million to up to 30 chances in 1 million.

How to recognise a heart attack

Click on thumbnail to view. Story continues after photos.
(Photos: ST, AFP, Reuters)

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