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.