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28-03-2011 | Cardiology | Article

Physical, sexual activity may raise acute cardiac events risk


Free abstract

MedWire News: Every episode of physical and sexual activity may increase an individual's immediate risk for myocardial infarction (MI) and sudden cardiac death (SCD), suggest results from a systematic review and meta-analysis.

But the researchers found that those who regularly exercise at a high intensity have the lowest cardiac event risk associated with each episode of physical or sexual activity.

Issa Dahabreh and Jessica Paulus, from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, conducted a 14-study meta-analysis involving 9079 adults, which showed that episodic physical and sexual activity significantly increased the 1-2 hour post-activity risk for MI by 3.45- and 2.70 fold, respectively, (p<0.001 and p=0.001, respectively).

Similarly, the risk for SCD was 4.98-fold higher after each episode of physical activity compared with before each episode (p=0.01).

Dahabreh and Paulus team highlight, however, that because exposures to physical and sexual activity "are infrequent and their effect on the outcomes of interest is transient, their impact on an individual's absolute event rate is small."

Specifically, "the absolute risk increase associated with an hour of additional physical or sexual activity per week was estimated at 2-3 per 10,000 person-years for MI and 1 per 10,000 person-years for SCD," state the authors.

A further analysis of individuals who regularly exercised showed that regular activity significantly attenuates the association between physical activity and cardiac event risk.

Indeed, each additional episode of physical activity per week reduced the activity-related risk for MI and SCD by 45% and 30%, respectively.

The authors say: "Clinically, this result suggests that physicians counseling patients regarding their exercise habits may need to tailor their advice to the patients' habitual activity levels: sedentary individuals should be counseled to increase the frequency and intensity of physical activity gradually."

The team concludes: "Our results should not be misinterpreted as indicating a net harm of physical or sexual activity; instead they demonstrate that these exposures are associated with a temporary short-term increase in the risk of acute cardiac events."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Lauretta Ihonor

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