Sex After a Heart Attack

A man has a recent heart attack. He is eager to get back in the saddle and remembers the movie, Something’s Gotta Give, when Jack Nicholson, who had a recent heart attack, asks his doctor about when “his best friend” can start getting back into action. He’s told that he has to wait until he can climb two flights of stairs without shortness of breadth or chest pain. Both the man and his partner are concerned if sex trigger could another heart attack.
It is well documented that fewer than 1% of heart attacks come from having sex. It makes sense to think of sex as a form of exercise: If your doctor clears you for physical activity, you’re also likely safe for sex. Remember the two flights of stairs test.
Most men and their partners are uncomfortable broaching the topic with their doctor. Most doctors are comfortable talking about sexual intimacy and you shouldn’t avoid the topic. Often the patient is surprised — or even relieved — that the doctor raises the subject.
Similar to any type of exercise, if you begin to feel symptoms such as chest pain, abnormal shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, or palpitations, it definitely makes sense to slow down what you’re doing, whether you’re a man or a woman. If you’re pretty certain it’s angina, which is temporary pain or pressure in the chest when the heart doesn’t get enough oxygen, it might help to take your nitroglycerin.
The exception to that advice is for men who use medication for erectile dysfunction such as Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis — it’s dangerous to take nitroglycerin. Your blood pressure can fall to dangerously low levels, and there’s an increased risk of heart attack and even death. If you’re on an erectile dysfunction drug and have heart-related symptoms during sex, call your doctor.
Bottom Line: Sexual intimacy is important to men at all ages and includes men who have had a recent heart attack. A candid conversation will help you get back to enjoying a sexual relationship with your significant other. Talk to your doctor

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