More articles by

Dr D Narayana Reddy
Dr D Narayana Reddy


Matters of the heart

Resume love life after a cardiac event when you feel up to it

Many persons with cardiac problems who read a recent newspaper article about people dying during intercourse reached out to me for alleviating their fears. Sex is the most potent urge and a guesstimated 30 million Indians have cardiac problems.

Death can occur during consensual sex for a number of reasons, generally because of the physical strain, or because of unusual circumstances. Deaths during consensual sex account only for approximately 0.6 per cent of all sudden deaths. A majority of deaths due to cardiovascular causes during sex occur in males. A number of deaths during consensual sex have been linked to the use of prescription or recreational drugs.

JUST SEX Illustration: Bhaskaran

A 2011 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that men who were unfaithful were significantly more likely to experience severe or fatal cardiac events during sex. Studies show that people with existing cardiac conditions will develop chest pain only when the heart rate touches 135/min. Thankfully, nature has ensured that even during the peak of an orgasm the heart rate touches only 117/min. The energy cost during orgasm is 4.5-5.5 mets (metabolic equivalents: 3.5ml of oxygen consumption/kg body weight/minute). The ability of individuals who have suffered heart attack is 8 to 9 mets.

A coital death study showed the following:
* 34 out of 5,559 cases of sudden death
* 18 related to cardiovascular activity
* 14 out of 18 during extramarital coitus

According to the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association guidelines, those who suffered from uncomplicated heart attack can resume sex life about 10 days later. It depends on various factors, like the extent of recovery and the person’s exercise tolerance level. Hence, check with the cardiologist first.

Individuals with the following problems need to be extra cautious:
* Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (a disease of the cardiac muscle in which the muscle is thickened causing functional impairment of the heart)
* Faulty heart wiring (Brugada Syndrome: a genetic disease that is characterised by abnormal electrical conductivity adversely affecting the heart beat)
* Brain aneurysm (abnormal bulges in the walls of brain blood vessels)
* Aortic dissection (a tear in the outer wall of aorta allowing blood to flow between the layers of the wall of aorta)
* Pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lungs)

If a person can walk briskly or climb two flights of stairs without developing chest pain or breathlessness, then he/she can safely resume sex life. They can have sex if the treadmill test results show good exercise tolerance.

The golden rule is moderation. One should have sex for pleasure, for the relationship and not to prove oneself.

  • Do not force yourself to do anything you aren’t feeling up to. Body constitution and the process of recovery differ from person to person.
  • Avoid marathon sessions. Your manhood is not being probed here nor is it for display.
  • Extramarital sex tends to heave your heart up and sets it running on a pace definitely not recommended after an attack.
  • Avoid consumption of alcohol and heavy meals prior to sex as a lot of energy and blood flow are expended for digestion.
  • Sex after a night of good sleep or a period of rest would be just what the doctor ordered.
  • Adhere to the exercise regimen. Systematic physical fitness training can increase cardiovascular performance and exercise tolerance as well as decrease peak coital heart rates. Isotonic and aerobic exercises would be ideal. Remember, sex is also a form of exercise.
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Topics : #health | #Sex

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