Sex after a heart attack
Submitted by : Marc C. Gittelman, M.D.
Submitted on: February 12, 2008
Q: I am 68 and had a heart attack three years ago. My wife and I are concerned that being intimate might cause another one. Is sex dangerous for people with heart conditions?
A: Heart problems and erections problems usually go together because both conditions are similar. A heart attack essentially is poor blood flow to parts of the heart. Erectile dysfunction is the end result of poor blood flow to the penis causing difficulties with achieving and maintaining an erection. There are many different types of heart disease ranging from weak hearts to irregular heartbeats to problems with heart valves. In addition, there is a certain amount of exercise associated with being intimate. Some of the medical tables associate the energy needed for sex to be similar to climbing a flight of stairs. But that is a very rough guide since the amount of energy expended by a couple can vary depending on positions, foreplay and the amount of time making love.
Another consideration is whether or not a heart patient can use products such as Viagra. Men who are taking nitrates to help with heart pain associated with angina must not use these medications. Although most stable heart patients can be sexually active, it is essential to review your situation with your cardiologist or internist to determine whether it is safe for you to use erection enhancing medications or to endure and enjoy the physical activity required for sexual relations.