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Sex After Heart Attack: Is It Safe?
Q: I’m 55 and had a heart attack and a stent about eight months ago. I’m afraid to be intimate with my wife. Is sex safe after a heart attack?
A: Your fears about sex after your heart attack are normal and common, although many men and women are uncomfortable discussing them with their doctors.
Generally, if you’re recovering from a heart attack, doctors advise waiting two weeks before engaging in intercourse, which is considered mild to moderate exercise. Raking leaves, walking a couple flights of stairs, or walking 18 holes while playing golf is moderate exercise. If you can comfortably tolerate this level of activity, then you are most likely physically ready for sex.
Tell your doctor all the medications you are taking, including over-the-counter drugs or medicine for erectile dysfunction, as these drugs may adversely interact with your heart medications.
Some people are depressed while recovering from a heart attack, which can also decrease your sex drive and lead to anxiety about your ability to perform sexually.
When you are ready to resume sexual intercourse after your heart attack, choose a time when you’re rested, wait one to three hours after eating a full meal, and select a familiar, peaceful setting that’s free from interruptions.
Jennifer H. Mieres, M.D., is director of nuclear cardiology at New York University. She’s also co-author of Heart Smart for Black Women and Latinas (St. Martin’s Press, 2008).