I’m sure Hank Williams, Jr. was just being poetic, but there’s a certain amount of true poetic justice in the lyrics to his classic song, Your Cheatin’ Heart. “Your cheatin’ heart will tell on you,” writes Hank. “Your cheatin’ heart will make you weep.” Another example of Country music getting it exactly right.
Researchers at the University of Florence (Italy) found that men who cheat on their wives are more likely to suffer from “sudden coital death” (or, in cowboy terms, “dying in the saddle,” meaning they have a heart attack and die) while having sex with their mistress, than men who are sleeping with their wife.
There are a number of factors at work here. “Extra-marital sex may be hazardous and stressful because the lover is often younger than the primary partner,” writes Dr. Alessandra Fisher, lead author of the study. Translation: trying to satisfy a younger, more sexually demanding woman can cause a heart attack. Vigorous sex may also be responsible for knocking lose plaque deposits that have been building up inside arteries. Those chunks of plaque then clump together and create blockages which cause death.
Affairs away from home are especially dangerous. “It is possible that a secret sexual encounter in an unfamiliar setting may significantly increase blood pressure and heart rate, leading to increased oxygen demand,” Fisher says. Translation: The excitement and titillation of being an in unfamiliar place gets your heart racing so much that you could have a heart attack.
Throw in a guilty conscience, the stress of keeping the affair secret, the likelihood that adulterous sex will happen after excessive eating and/or drinking, and you’ve got a real-life case of a cheatin’ heart getting its just desserts.
You can read an abstract of the study, which was published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, here.