Illicit sex after heart surgery can lead to high blood pressure

There seems to be concern amongst heart attack survivors as to whether and when they can resume having sex. Patients and their partners are often terrified that sex will trigger another heart attack, even though the data suggest that the risk is low ― by some estimates less than one percent.

A new consensus document by the American Heart Association and the European Society of Cardiology Council on Cardiovascular Nursing and Allied Professions sets out to answer these and many other questions posed by people who have had a heart attack, an implantable heart device, a heart transplant, coronary artery bypass graft surgery, heart failure, stroke or other cardiovascular diseases.

Researchers say you’re ready six to eight weeks after surgery and if you have the energy output equivalent to walking a treadmill at three to four miles per hour, or climbing two flights of stairs at a brisk pace. However, there are certain situations where sex can put patients at risk.

According to the document someone who has had a heart attack or cardiac disease faces health risks like hypertension if they engage in furtive, extramarital sex or sex with an unfamiliar partner. The stress involved could increase blood pressure and heart rate significantly and worst case scenario, cause sudden death or cardiovascular events. Nevertheless, the risk is low compared to say anger or unaccustomed physical exercise.

When a person is fully recovered and having sex normally, research shows that having a lot of sex reduces stress and lowers blood pressure. According to studies, experiencing an orgasm releases oxytocin, which calms the nerves by offsetting the effects of the stress hormone cortisol. Even the non-sexual effects of oxytocin ― its ability to alleviate social anxiety and produce feelings of trust, have been shown to reduce cortisol in the body and lower blood pressure.

In short, healthy sex, even post-heart surgery, promotes overall health and is another natural way to lower the blood pressure.

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