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Heart Disease Health Center

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Sex After a Heart Attack

When Can You Resume Sex After a Heart Attack?

Most people can safely resume sexual activity a couple of weeks after a heart attack, if they have no serious complications, cardiologists say.

In fact, the chance of another heart attack during sex is so low that it's not worth worrying about, says James E. Muller, MD, a researcher who published a 2000 study, "Triggering of Cardiac Events by Sexual Activity," in the American Journal of Cardiology.

"The absolute risk is very low and should not be a consideration for those with stable coronary disease," he says.

"Sex is generally physical activity, and some doctors have even said it's the equivalent of walking up a flight of steps," Goldberg says. "It's not as vigorous an activity as some people perceive."

Patients may not even need an exercise stress test first to check how much physical activity their heart can handle according to Thomas. In general, patients can resume sex after a heart attack if they are "able to walk a couple of flights of stairs, if they're able to walk on a treadmill, or do moderate-intensity activity without any chest discomfort or without any severe shortness of breath," says Thomas.

Sex after a heart attack is safe even after successful bypass surgery or angioplasty in which stents are placed inside arteries to keep them open, according to Goldberg. However, bypass patients may need additional time to recover from their surgical wounds.

Certain high-risk patients do need to be more cautious, however. If they've developed complications from a heart attack--for example, heart failure or dangerous heart rhythms that make them prone to heart attack, cardiac arrest, or fainting-they may need additional treatment. Until these treatments work to reduce their cardiac risk, they should ask their doctor when it will be safe to resume sexual activity.

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