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Exercise, Sex Can Boost Heart Attack Risk Slightly

Risk Very Low for Regular Exercisers, Experts Say

Low Risk for Regular Exercisers

Regular exercisers have an even lower risk, the researchers found. Participants told how many times a week they exercised. For every additional session, the risk of heart attack decreased by about 45% and for sudden cardiac death by 30%.

While it points to a reason to exercise, Dahabreh cautions that the regular exercise may simply be a marker for a healthy lifestyle that also includes other good habits.

Up to a million heart attacks and 300,000 cardiac arrests occur annually in the U.S., the researchers write.

Paulus cautions those who haven't exercised regularly to see a doctor before starting.

The study was funded by the National Center for Research Resources of the National Institutes of Health.

The new findings echo those of other studies, says Barry Franklin, PhD, a spokesman for the American Heart Association and director of Cardiovascular Rehabilitation and Exercise Laboratories, Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Mich.

''In a nutshell, it's saying that physical exertion is a double-edged sword," Franklin tells WebMD. While it protects against getting heart disease and having heart attacks, it can also slightly boost the risk of heart problems. The risk of heart problems is higher in occasional exercisers than regular ones, he says.

"One way to diminish the risk is to be a regular exerciser," he says. Regular exercisers, he says, are used to the increase in blood pressure and heart rate that goes along with exertion.

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