A recent study has found that sex increases the risk of a heart attack among older men, but on the other hand, it lowers the risk of hypertension in women. The findings challenge the common notion that sex brings universal benefits to both men and women.
The researchers analyzed data from 2,204 people aged 57 to 85 in the beginning of the study. The information was first collected in 2005-2006, and then five years later.
Older men who reported having sex at least once a week during the first survey were more likely to experience a cardiovascular event by the time of the follow-up survey. The same results did not hold true for women.
Researcher Hui Liu said, “Strikingly, we find that having sex once a week or more puts older men at a risk for experiencing cardiovascular events that is almost two times greater than older men who are sexually inactive. Moreover, older men who found sex with their partner extremely pleasurable or satisfying had higher risk of cardiovascular events than men who did not feel so.”
“Because older men have more difficulties reaching orgasm for medical or emotional reasons than do their younger counterparts, they may exert themselves to a greater degree of exhaustion and create more stress on their cardiovascular system in order to achieve climax,” Liu added.
Low testosterone and medications aimed at boosting libido may also play a role in the increased risk of a heart attack among older sexually active men.
Although the news may not be good for men, women, on the other hand, benefit from frequent sex in their older years. Having sex was associated with greater protection from cardiovascular events and was even found to reduce high blood pressure.
Close, intimate connections also offer psychological benefits, which can translate to better cardiovascular health.
“This may be more relevant to women than to men because men in all relationships, regardless of quality, are more likely to receive support from their partner than are women. However, only women in good quality relationships may acquire such benefits from their partner,” Liu continued.
Furthermore, the female hormones released during orgasm also work to offer protective benefits to the heart.
How to prevent heart attack in older men and women
Here are some tips to help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack.
- Take the time to exercise, but don’t overexert yourself. Exercise can improve mood and be a form of relaxation.
- Manage and reduce stress, and schedule time to relax.
- Get the flu shot to protect yourself from illness.
- Set goals for yourself to get healthy.
- Try to maintain healthy eating habits – stock up on fruits and vegetables.
- Get proper sleep and try to maintain a sleep schedule.
- Minimize your alcohol intake.
- Stay social – being isolated or feeling alone can hurt your heart.
- Keep realistic expectations. High ones can not only set you up to fail, but can add stress.
- Keep up with your medication routine and check up with your doctor regularly – skipping a treatment and preventative care can have harmful effects.
- Don’t smoke, and if you do currently make a plan to quit.
- Manage your blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes.
By following these simple tips, you can easily improve the health of your heart and reduce the risk of a heart attack.