Sure, it makes for a dramatic scene in a movie: A couple gets frisky when all of a sudden the guy’s heart can’t take it and he’s rushed off to hospital! Could sex up the odds of having another heart attack?
Fact is, despite your ticker’s super powers, 215 people die every day from heart disease or strokes; it’s a scary fact and if you’ve recently been through a cardiac episode, you might find the thought of intimacy too risky in fear that the physical exertion required during sex, could provoke another attack.
Here’s the thing, sexual activity has definite physical effects on the heart. It makes your heart work harder, increases heart rate, elevates blood pressure, and causes an increase in oxygen consumption.
BUT exercise has those same effects, and an exercise program – begun slowly and gradually whilst increasing in intensity – is a key part of cardiac rehabilitation. So, the short answer? Yes, most people can, and should resume sexual activity after a heart attack.
What are the general guidelines? Always discuss when it’s safe to resume “heart-safe” sex with your cardiologist. Health care providers generally ask patients to avoid intercourse for 4 to 6 weeks after a heart attack; this is the period that most of the healing occurs in the heart muscle.
During this healing time, you should be receiving medicine to help your heart heal, to prevent the progression of atherosclerosis and to prevent another heart attack, or another form of acute coronary syndrome. In addition, you should be participating in a cardiac rehabilitation programme which will help you to tolerate moderate levels of physical exertion.
Sex is not as vigorous an activity as you might think. Some doctors even reckon it’s the equivalent of walking up a flight of stairs. So, think of sex as a particularly pleasurable workout, but don’t hesitate to discuss the topic with your cardiac rehabilitation team.
Once you’re cleared, ease back into it slowly. Having sex successfully just once after your heart attack can build the confidence you need to keep at it. Start with your usual position. Trying new moves could cause more strain than the ones you’re used to. Also, erectile difficulties tend to go hand in hand with heart attacks, however, anybody who’s had a heart attack should definitely be cleared by their doctor before using any medication for sexual dysfunction.
Stop and rest if you feel chest pain, shortness of breath, or heart palpitations. If they subside, you can try again after a few minutes. However, if the symptoms stick around - call your doctor - or if the chest pain lasts longer than 15 minutes, seek emergency care.
Research collected over a period of 22 years found that heart attack survivors who had sex more than once a week were 35% less likely to die from another heart attack than those who abstained from sex.
Ultimately, once you’ve been cleared and your comfortable with the idea of having sex, there’s no reason to deny yourself – or your partner – the heart health benefits of sex.
Source: everydayhealth.com, womenshealthmag.com, webmd.com, verywellhealth.com, untswmed.org, menshealth.com, heartfoundation.co.za, womenshealth.gov, heart.org, crestline.com
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.