Heart Health Twitter Quiz: Sex and the Heart Patient

Is sex safe for heart patients?


True or False: Sex is safe for most heart patients.

  • True
  • False

Answer: True

In their book, Heart 411, Drs. Gillinov and Nissen say:

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Is sex exercise?
On average, sex lasts for five to fifteen minutes and consumes about as much energy as walking a mile in twenty minutes. The younger and more vigorous among us may double or even triple this figure, reaching the threshold of vigorous exercise. Alas, these people are the exception.

Sex does cause a modest cardiovascular response, with heart rates reaching 120 to 130 and a blood pressure spike that generally peaks at about 160/90. While these numbers exceed resting levels, they are not even close to the maximum values attained during heavy exertion: shoveling snow places a far greater strain on the cardiovascular system.

Sex and the risk of heart attack
Less than 1 percent of all heart attacks are triggered by sex, compared to 5 percent that are brought on by heavy physical exertion and 3 percent by anger. This risk is even lower among heart patients who exercise regularly.

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Special circumstances: When sex increases cardiac risk
Sex is generally safe for those with coronary heart disease, carrying an extremely low risk of triggering a heart attack. But men with coronary heart disease do need to follow the rules. When heart attacks do occur during or after sex, they almost always involve older men engaged in extramarital affairs with younger women. The increased excitement associated with unfamiliar partners and different settings may cause greater increases in heart rate and blood pressure, magnifying the cardiovascular risk.

Read more about sex and the men’s heart

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