Yes, sex can kill you, U.S. study shows

Tue Mar 22, 2011 5:19pm EDT
 
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By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Sudden bursts of moderate to intense physical activity -- such as jogging or having sex -- significantly increase the risk of having a heart attack, especially in people who do not get regular exercise, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

Doctors have long known that physical activity can cause serious heart problems, but the new study helps to quantify that risk, Dr. Issa Dahabreh of Tufts Medical Center in Boston, whose study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The team analyzed data from 14 studies looking at the link between exercise, sex and the risk of heart attacks or sudden cardiac death -- a lethal heart rhythm that causes the heart to stop circulating blood.

They found people are 3.5 times more likely to get a heart attack or have sudden cardiac death when they are exercising compared to when they are not.

And they are 2.7 times more likely to get a heart attack when they are having sex or immediately afterward compared with when they are not. (These findings do not apply to sudden cardiac death because there were no studies looking at the link between sex and cardiac death.)

Jessica Paulus, another Tufts researcher who worked on the study, said the risk is fairly high as such studies go. But the period of increased risk is brief.

"These elevated risks are only for a short period of time (1 to 2 hours) during and after the physical or sexual activity," Paulus said in a telephone interview.

Because of that, the risk to individuals over the course of a year is still quite small, she said.   Continued...

 
<p>A couple watches the sunset next to the lighthouse of Wittenberge on the Elbe river near Hamburg January 13, 2008. REUTERS/Christian Charisius</p>