PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Feeling romantic? If it’s been a while, be sure to take care of your heart.

“There are lots of reasons to have a healthy heart. Sexual activity is just one of those,” Allegheny General Hospital Cardiologist Dr. Robert Biederman said.

If you’re in the mood for love, you may not want to jump into things with wild abandon. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that getting a bit more healthy is advisable before straining your heart.

“There is a link between episodic physical activity and sexual activity with the risk of heart attack and death from sudden cardiac events during a very short window of time. Along the order of one to two hours following the physical activity and sexual activity,” co-author Jessica Paulus, Sc. D. of Tufts Medical Center in Boston said.

Researchers reviewed 14 studies looking at heart attack and death and being physically or sexually active just once in a while.

Heart attack and death were three-and-a-half to five times more likely for those who aren’t typically active. However, the overall risk is low, just one per 10,000 for active people, three per 10,000 for those who aren’t.

“My general experience, probably one to two percent of the cases of heart attacks have some level of physical activity associated with them, in and around the bedroom, shall we say,” Dr. Biederman said. “But, I would say 70 percent of the cases of a heart attack have something to do with physical exertion, or at least led up to the process of a heart attack.”

Most of the people studied were between 55 and 64, and the risk went up with just one additonal hour of physical or sexual activity a week.

If you are generally not used to exerting yourself, but would like to step up your game, do it slowly.

“If you’re 60-years-old, your pulse should stay somewhere around 130 or so, and if you feel your heart rate getting faster than that, then you should sort of slow things down. That means one has to take certain things more gently. An amorous moment might be five minutes or 10 minutes, might just be sufficient,” Dr. Biederman said.

For people who regularly exercise and maintain an active lifestyle, the risk is lower.

Dr. Biederman said there are no official guidelines for getting into shape for romance, but recommends walking around the block five days a week as a way to get your heart pumping in preparation.

Dr. Biederman  was a guest on the Morning News with Larry Richert and John Shumway on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA Wednesday to discuss the study’s findings.

Listen to the interview:


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