Fear of Sex After a Heart Attack

June 2, 2010 by moi 

A recently released study indicates that people who have sex regularly before a heart attack have sex less often after recovering especially if they don’t talk about their fears with their doctors.

In a survey of heart attack patients, only about half of all men and 1 of every 3 women said their heart specialist talked to them about it before their discharge from the hospital. The research also showed that only about 40% of men and 20% of women reported talking about the issue with a doctor in the 12 months following their event .

The survey also shows that sexual activity declined for both men and women during the year following their heart attack.

After making adjustments for multiple variables, the researchers found that men were about 30% more likely and women were 40% more likely to report a reduction in sexual activity when their cardiologists failed to discuss sex with them after a heart attack.

One of the lead researchers,Stacy Tessler Lindau, MD, said “We found that one important difference between people who did and did not resume sexual activity after a heart attack was whether their doctor discussed the issue with them at hospital discharge.”

Most people don’t know that they can safely resume normal sexual activity as soon as several weeks after having an uncomplicated heart attack, as long as they feel up to it and are able to engage in other moderate activities.

But many people feel anxiety that sex will bring on a second heart attack. And even when they are not afraid, their partners often are.

But the risk is actually very small, according to Dr. Murray A. Mittleman of Harvard Medical School. But Dr. Mittleman also notes that “Exercise is very important following a heart attack for all sorts of reasons, and this is one more. Exercise virtually eliminates the risk of having a heart attack associated with sexual activity.”

Frank Discussions Are Important

The study included close to 1200 men and approximately 600 women who were surveyed one month and then one year after having a heart attack. The average age of the women was 61 and the average age of the men was 59.

Patients hospitalized for a heart attack who had a discussion with their doctors about sex were more likely to have sex during the following year.

Lindau says some doctors are sometimes reluctant to discuss the topic of sex with their heart attack patients, especially if those patients are seniors. They sometimes assume, often incorrectly, that there is no need.

Patients also tend to worry about loss of libido or sexual satisfaction caused by depression or heart medicine, which are common concerns among patients with heart health problems - especially those who have heart disease or have survived a heart attack.         


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