Nov 28 2000 1:24AM
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Men can halve the risk of a major heart attack or stroke by having sex three or four times a week, a specialist in cardiovascular disease said on Tuesday.
Men who see themselves as athletic in bed will be also heartened by University of Bristol research which says doctors now believe that sex is as legitimate a form of exercise as a game of squash or a long run.
The British university's Professor Shah Ebrahim said a study of 2,400 men in the Welsh town of Caerphilly had forced cardiovascular specialists to redefine the relationship between exercise and the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
"In the past we thought it had to be activity at least three times a week and lasting 20 minutes or longer, causing sweatiness or being out of breath," Ebrahim told Reuters.
"That's quite vigorous activity. Most men of course think it's sex, which most women think lasts only a few minutes and isn't nearly as sustained as that," he said.
In the groundbreaking Caerphilly study, men with no history of major diseases were asked a wide range of questions, including whether they had sex once, twice or three or more times a week.
"What was found when the men were followed up over the next 10 years was that those who'd had three or more orgasms a week were half as likely to have had a heart attack or a stroke," Ebrahim said by telephone from the fourth World Stroke Congress in Melbourne.
"We're now moving to a situation where we would say that even mild to moderate levels of physical activity are likely to have some cardiovascular protective effect," he said.
The World Stroke Congress was told on Monday of Japanese research into a possible link between strokes and infidelity.
Tokyo-based cardiovascular researcher Dr Izumi Toyoda said he had found in a study of 42 people who had suffered fatal cerebral strokes while having sex that almost half were being unfaithful.
Of the 42 fatal strokes, 19 "resulted from sexual relations that were extramarital or with prostitutes," Toyoda said.
Other researchers cautioned that factors such as high alcohol intake could also have been a factor among those 19 cases. Toyoda's speech notes said more study was needed in these cases.
The congress heard on Tuesday that extreme snoring was also a serious risk factor for strokes and could be made worse by alcohol consumption.
Copyright © 2000 Reuters Limited.