Sex can trigger sudden cardiac arrest, even if you’re perfectly healthy. But the benefits far outweigh the risk.
Studies show sex can triple the chance of a heart attack, even in healthy people. That’s alarming, but before you decide to bar your bedroom door, understand that those statistics don’t reveal the true risk.
If you were to believe any number of movies and TV shows like the popular “Mad Men,” sex is a common heart stopper. While it certainly adds drama to the proceedings, having sex is unlikely to do you in.
“Exercise or sex can trigger a heart attack or sudden cardiac death…and your heart going into a bad rhythm. But the risk is really small,” says Marc Gillinov, MD, of Cleveland Clinic.
The chances that a healthy 50-year-old man having a heart attack during sex is only three in a million. You have a better chance of getting struck by lightning, one chance in 3,000 over a lifetime.
Even for a heart attack survivor who is getting into shape, the risk is just 30 in a million.
That said, there are certain circumstances in which sexual activity can increase the risk of heart attack, albeit it by a small margin. When it comes to measuring physical exertion, experts consider most sex to be comparable to walking.
Different positions, however, can ramp up and even double exertion. And sex with a new partner in a new setting can increase your risk as well.
Still, the important thing to know from these studies is that it’s actually healthier for your heart to have more sex, more often. Any regular physical activity significantly reduces the risk of having a heart attack.
“If you are a heart patient or have a family history of heart disease, you don’t have to think, ‘maybe I shouldn’t exercise because it’s risky,'” Dr. Gillinov notes. “The risk around exercise is tiny, and the overall been fit of exercise is great.”