Especially people with heart problems fear that sexual intercourse could overwhelm their pump organ. But heart experts give the all-clear
Familiar: Heart patients and their partners usually do not have to do without intimacy
Sex is healthy. He releases a hormone cocktail that reduces stress, triggers feelings of happiness and creates a feeling of connection between the participants. In the long term, the act of love also strengthens the immune system and the cardiovascular system.
Despite all this, the notion is that sex can be dangerous to the heart. Especially men who have suffered a heart attack once before are plagued by the idea of suffering another attack in the middle of sexual intercourse. Cope? “For a healthy heart sex is not a problem, for a sick heart very rarely,” says dr. Christian Neuhof, Specialist in Internal Medicine and Psychotherapy at the Sexual Medicine Competence Center in Hannover.
Studies: Sex rarely precedes heart attack
There is no shortage of research supporting this statement. In a study published in 2015, a team led by Professor Dieter Rothenbacher from the University of Ulm evaluated the data of 536 infarct patients. Only three of them had sex one hour before the incident, so very few. This temporal proximity does not necessarily mean that the sexual act was directly responsible for the heart attack.
In the 1990s, an American study came to a similar conclusion: According to less than one percent of all heart attacks are due to sexual intercourse. Incidentally, especially men are affected.
Physically fittes have little to fear
When the US researchers Issa Dahabreh and Jessica Paulus analyzed ten studies in 2011 for a meta-analysis, they found that the risk of having a heart attack during sex is lower than in other physical activities.
“Sex can be a problem, especially for people with disabilities,” says Dr. Norbert Smetak, Chairman of the Federal Association of Registered Cardiologists. The better someone is in shape, the less he usually has to be afraid of dangerous side effects during the act. The physical requirements are not particularly high: “Who can walk two stories up the stairs, can also be safely sexually active,” said Smetak.
Also, heart patients usually do not have to do without
“The heart rate rarely climbs during sex more than 120 strokes,” says sexologist Christian Neuhof. The burden is therefore no greater than a brisk walk. Therefore, even after a cardiac arrest or other heart disease, patients do not have to practice abstinence. However, the condition is that the state of health is stable.
In addition, those affected should observe a certain grace period. “After a mild infarction, about ten days rest period is appropriate, after surgery on the heart about four weeks,” says Smetak.
“A piece of normality”
A stress ECG provides information about the physical limitations of the patient after an infarction. As a rule, doctors address the subject of sexuality as part of rehabilitation. If possible, they include the partners of the patients in these discussions. After all, these are directly affected and usually just as insecure as the people themselves.
Under certain circumstances, sex after a heart attack even has a positive effect, as it reduces stress and ensures intimacy. This can help to prevent mood depressions or depression that heart patients often suffer from. “Especially for men, it can also mean an important piece of normality to be sexually active again after the infarction,” says Neuhof. “For some patients, fulfilling sexuality may even be an incentive to live healthier after an infarction.”
For complaints: Interrupt sexual intercourse immediately
Heart doctor Smetak warns against putting pressure on themselves after an infarction. He recommends that you find your way back to the sex life better slowly. Anyone who notices chest tightness or other signs of angina pectoris during the sexual act should definitely interrupt it.
Also, be aware of potency-enhancing drugs such as Viagra: “These can cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure when used in combination with nitro-supplements used as an emergency in angina,” says Smetak. Anyone who has taken Viagra and experiences such symptoms, should therefore wait for glowing complaints shortly, whether these disappear again. If this is not the case or in case of severe pain: call the emergency doctor immediately (112). In any case, men should refrain from Viagra in the first months after a heart attack or unstable angina. Those affected can best be advised by the attending physician.
There are greater dangers to the heart
A little caution during intercourse thus does not harm a vulnerable heart. But you should not overestimate the danger. Statistically, road traffic stress, air pollution, alcohol and outbursts are far more risky for the pump organ.