You've been treated for heart disease. You've followed your doctor's orders to a T. Now she says you're ready to get back to normal life. But does that include sex?
You know that clichéd yet haunting scene. Someone's having a fine time in bed. Then he clutches his heart and slumps over -- and then it's, well, over. But here's the truth: You're more likely to have a heart attack while arguing with your mate than during sex, says Richard A. Stein, MD. He's a cardiologist at New York University School of Medicine in New York.
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The media helps feed the idea that having sex after heart disease is risky. "The story goes back a long time," Stein says. "The mythology is that at the time of sex, the time of orgasm, you have enormous cardiovascular effort and you put yourself at sudden risk of heart attack."
But sex is really no harder on the body than climbing a few flights of stairs or briskly walking four or five blocks.In fact, lots of people get the green light for sex within a week after they leave treatment, says Erin Michos, MD. She's an associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. "Patients with heart disease that are stable are generally at very low risk," she says.
Still, the subject makes many people afraid. But if you replace your fears with these tips, you can be snuggling again quicker than you think.
Get a Stress Test. This is sometimes called a treadmill test. You'll work out on a piece of equipment such as a treadmill or stationary bike while your doctor measures how well your heart keeps up with your body. There are several benefits to this:
You'll see firsthand what you can do, and you'll feel more confident.
If your spouse or partner goes along, they'll see your progress and feel more at ease about your physical health and strength.
Doctors often prescribe some type of cardio rehab after treatment. This test can double as a fitness check for rehab and for sex.