Sex After a Heart Attack

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At the age of 38 years old, she had a myocardial infarction (heart attack), that almost claimed her life. This heart attack deadened the back half of her heart, which has been found through recent tests to remain non-functional, three decades later.  When the initial infarction occurred the cardiologist had to perform a triple bypass at the base of the three main vessels close to her heart.

The main option at the end of the 70s was open heart surgery with femoral vein graft bypass. She did well after surgery and went on to live a perfectly normal life. Now, over three decades later, I am turning forty before the New Year begins. I can’t help but think that it must have been so difficult for her to have had to alter her sex life, in her sexual prime.

Now, being two years older than she was at the time of her heart attack, and being there through every procedure, chest pain, and catherization, I can say it really makes me think. Seeing her family history that includes her father and two older brothers dropping dead, literally, with heart attacks at young ages is scary, considering the woman I am talking about is my Mom. According to this excellent source, I can say that you can have a normal and healthy sex life following a heart attack. Just use good judgement and pay attention to any instructions given to you by your physician or cardiologist.

When your cardiologist gives you your discharge activities, including when you can resume sexual activity, take the time to ask him any questions that you have been pondering over. He can give you answers to your specific questions, yet many people are too embarrassed to ask. Since most patients are too shy to ask some of the questions they have about resuming sexual activity, some of the most common questions will be discussed next.

Sexual activity can normally be resumed within a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the severity on the patient’s condition. Your doctor will let you know when it is safe to resume various activities, including sex. When the time comes that the patient and their partner, want to be intimate, many may find that they cannot perform sexually. This performance problem is usually due to stress over the fear of having another heart attack during intimacy.

Once your cardiologist gives you the green light on resuming sexual activity, there are no certain restrictions. Sexual activity is good for your heart and cardiovascular health. If you want to do a little pre-sex health test on yourself, try this: walk one quarter of a mile or up two flights of stairs. If you can perform one of these activities without problems (chest pain or SOB), then you are ready to resume your normal sexual relations with your spouse or significant other.

Most problems with intimacy arise when one or both partners are fearful of sexual activity due to a recent heart attack. Doctors agree that sex is not a vigorous physical activity although many will perceive it as such. Walking on a treadmill or up two flights of stairs is more physically stressful on the heart muscle than sex.

Patients that are placed on beta blockers following a heart attack or surgery may feel depressed, causing a lack of sexual desire. Be aware that medications used for the treatment of erectile dysfunction do not mix with the drug nitroglycerin, a common drug used to relieve chest pain in cardiac patients. Do not use any ED drugs without the consent of a cardiologist!

Sex is not the only activity concern for  new cardiac patients. There is also the questions of when to return to work, exercise, and resume strenuous physical activities. An exercise regimen will actually begin before leaving the hospital. Patients are given simple exercises to perform such as walking in the hallway. A stress test will often be performed on cardiac patients prior to discharge to help the physician determine an appropriate exercise discharge plan for the patient.

Most cardiac patients can safely resume work within one to three months following a heart attack and/or surgery. This can be determined by you and your cardiologist according to the amount of physical and mental stress your job generates. As far as more strenuous activities your cardiologist will sit down with you and discuss a long term plan. Your future may be limited on some of the more extreme physical activities, yet you should be able to otherwise live the life you did prior to the heart attack.


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