(CNN)People who have had heart attacks can boost their chances of long-term survival by returning to normal levels of sexual activity, a new study shows.
Many people stop having sex after a heart attack in the belief that it could trigger another episode, but research published Wednesday in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology says sex is good for survival rates.
Researchers followed 495 couples for around 20 years and found that those who maintained or increased their frequency of sexual activity in the first six months after a heart attack had a 35% lower risk of death than those who stopped having sex or reduced their frequency.
"Sexuality and sexual activity are markers of wellbeing," study author Professor Yariv Gerber of Tel Aviv University in Israel said in a press release.
"Resumption of sexual activity soon after a heart attack may be a part of one's self-perception as a healthy, functioning, young and energetic person. This may lead to a healthier lifestyle generally."
While sudden physical exertion, such as having sex, can trigger a heart attack, the long-term risk of heart problems is reduced by regular physical activity, the researchers said.
While isolated episodes of sexual activity have been shown to trigger heart problems in some cases, people who exercise regularly are at lower risk.