Is there sex after a heart attack?

Anyone who has worked around cardiac patients have a humorous story to tell about their conversations with patients regarding sex. They usually sound something like;

“Uh, my wife wanted me to ask you something.”

“What can I help you with?”

“Um, um, when can I resume, you know, normal activity?”

“What type of work do you do?”

“No, not that kind of activity, you know…the other kind.”

“I’m not sure what you are asking.”

“Um, you know, when can I start having sex again?”

It is a very common concern among people who have had heart attacks, open heart surgery, or even those who just had stents placed in their heart arteries. The short answer to the question is yes, there is a sex life with heart disease. Most patients can resume normal sexual activity within a couple of weeks of their heart attack or stent placement. Those with open heart surgery may have to wait a bit longer because their surgical wounds need to heal.

There are some patients who may need to be evaluated prior to resuming sexual activity. Those who have congestive heart failure or certain rhythm disturbances should have a more in-depth evaluation before resuming normal sexual activity. Always keep in mind that just like other forms of exercises, like walking or climbing stairs, you should stop if:

  • You develop chest pain
  • You develop shortness of breath
  • You become dizzy

Certain medications may affect your body’s ability to have or maintain an erection; particularly beta blockers that are prescribed for most cardiac patients. Some patients react differently to these medications. A conversation with your physician may bring about a solution.

Do not use medications such as Viagra or Cialis if you have been prescribed nitrate medications like nitroglycerin for treatment of your heart disease. The combination of these medications may make your blood pressure drop to unhealthy levels.

Remember for most, sexual activity is safe and healthy following heart attack, open heart surgery or treatment for heart disease. Relax and enjoy your new lease on life.

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This page was written by on Apr 5, 2017.
This page was last reviewed and updated by on Jul 20, 2020.