Skip to content

    Heart Disease Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Heart Attacks Don't Have to Attack Your Love Life

    By
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Merle Diamond, MD

    Aug. 14, 2000 -- For the majority of people, surviving a heart attack doesn't have to spell an end to romance, according to a report in the July issue of The American Journal of Cardiology. But if you're still concerned after your doctor says it's OK, there are some simple ways to get your sex life back on track.

    In most cases, "the chance of having a heart attack with weekly sex is less than one in 10,000," says study author James Muller, MD, director of clinical cardiology research at Boston's Mass General Hospital. "In fact, habitual anger is probably a bigger threat," he adds in an interview with WebMD.

    To explore the role of sex as a trigger, interviews were conducted with more than 800 heart attack survivors. The data showed that sex-triggered heart attacks were very infrequent -- with or without a history of chronic chest pain. But those who were couch potatoes had a higher risk than those who were active, highlighting the importance of cardiac rehabilitation, the authors suggest.

    Regular exercise lowers the risk during sex even more, according to cardiologist Stephen Kimmel, MD, MS, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. "By reducing the peak heart rate during sex, aerobic exercise lowers your risk of a heart attack to less than a tenth of a percent," he tells WebMD.

    This is good news for the more than half a million adults who survive heart attacks every year in the U.S. Yet studies show that sex stops or decreases for up to 70% of them, even three to four years after the heart attack.

    "A lot of heart attack survivors have concerns about sex, but many resume their normal routine by just taking it slow," says Brian Baker, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto who specializes in heart-related issues. "Once you get the OK from your cardiologist, it's really pretty simple."

    Baker suggests:

    • Focus on your comfort rather than passion
    • Try not to exert yourself too much at first
    • Start out with non-strenuous positions
    • Limit activity to short periods

    Today on WebMD

    x-ray of human heart
    A visual guide.
    atrial fibrillation
    Symptoms and causes.
     
    heart rate graph
    10 things to never do.
    heart rate
    Get the facts.
     
    empty football helmet
    Article
    red wine
    Video
     
    eating blueberries
    Article
    Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
    Slideshow
     
    Inside A Heart Attack
    SLIDESHOW
    Omega 3 Sources
    SLIDESHOW
     
    Salt Shockers
    SLIDESHOW
    lowering blood pressure
    SLIDESHOW