March 01, 2021

Sexual activity after heart attack linked to longer life

Resuming sexual activity in the weeks and months after you have a heart attack may seem risky. But new research suggests that it's not only safe for many heart attack survivors but may also be associated with a longer life.

The study, published in the September 2020 European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, followed 495 people in Israel who had a first heart attack in 1993 and had been sexually active prior to the heart attack. Most were male, and the average age was 53. Over the 22 years of the study, those who reported a return to their pre-heart attack sexual activity levels within six months of their first heart attack had a 35% reduced risk of death compared with those who cut back on sexual activity or stopped altogether.

It's not clear that sexual activity was the cause of the increased longevity. Perhaps those who returned to sex were simply healthier and more emotionally connected than those who didn't. However, Mayo Clinic experts say the study reinforces that, for people with cardiovascular disease, sexual activity can be an enjoyable part of life that can contribute to an overall plan for improved heart health.

Knowing if — and when — you can safely return to sexual activity after a heart attack is a conversation to have with your doctor. It's common to wait at least one to four weeks before resuming — or six to eight weeks if you had open-chest bypass surgery.

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