Aging & Health: Take Charge

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Apr 21, 2020

Sex after heart attack

By Joey Keillor, @joeykeillor



Contrary to popular beliefs, people who have had a heart attack often can safely have sex again once recovered. In fact, a recent study of Israeli heart attack survivors found that those who had regular sexual intercourse outlived those who were celibate, although it’s not known why.

After heart attack, it’s common to wait one to four weeks to resume sexual activities. This allows time for heart medications to be optimized, to start a program to rehabilitate your heart health (cardiac rehabilitation) and to begin treating other heart disease risk factors. If you had open-chest coronary bypass surgery, sexual activity is generally not recommended for six to eight weeks so that the breastbone (sternum) has time to heal.

Work with your doctor to determine when it’s safe for you to return to sex. This assessment may involve taking an exercise stress test and ensuring you’re following a cardiac rehabilitation program and taking medications in appropriate doses.

Sex is actually less taxing on your heart than you may think. It’s similar to climbing a few flights of stairs or slowly jogging. To minimize physical stress during sex, avoid unfamiliar surroundings and partners. Aim to be well-rested and avoid heavy meals and drinking unsafe amounts of alcohol. Erectile dysfunction drugs can be safely prescribed for those with stable heart disease, but don’t take them in combination with nitrate heart drugs.

How are you "getting back to life" after serious health event such as a heart attack?

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