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Sex and Your Heart Health

man on bench caressing woman's chin
Studies show that people who have sexual relations on a regular basis are much more likely to be healthy, vigorous, and have a stronger cardiovascular system than those who rarely or never have sex.  Sex does qualify as light exercise, though it has been estimated that it would take 3 hours of vigorous sexual activity to burn the calories contained in a single Snicker’s bar (so by itself it is not a practical weight loss strategy).  However, sexual activity also often improves mood, reduces tension, and helps people stay in love with each other, all of which tend to keep our heart healthy.

Erectile Dysfunction (ED), the ability to retain and maintain an erection sufficient to allow sexual intercourse, has been estimated to affect, at least to some degree, about 50% of men ages 40-70 years.  ED can be a marker of vascular disease elsewhere, for example the coronary arteries.  Risk factors for ED are essentially the same as those for coronary disease:   high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol, depression and known disease of the blood vessels (such as previous heart attack or stroke).

But exercise and sex, can be dangerous, as well.  They are both among the most common acute causes of heart attack and sudden cardiac death.  This is especially the case in sedentary people or “weekend warriors.”  To minimize the risk of cardiovascular problems with exercise or sex, it is best to stay fit, exercise on a regular basis, and avoid extreme physical exertion. Viagra and Levitra are both highly effective options for improving ED.  These appear to be safe drugs, especially Viagra, which has a long and reassuring track record.

It should come as no surprise now that the ways to keep your heart and love life in good shape do overlap:  don’t smoke, keep your blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight under control, and exercise regularly.

In Good Health,

James O'Keefe, MD


Photo Credit:  Pixabay Creative Commons