Medical Monday: When is it okay for people with heart disease to resume sex?

Posted at 7:31 PM, Feb 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-27 20:31:37-05
Dr. David Mathias, with Aurora BayCare joined us on Wisconsin Tonight to discuss when it is okay for people with heart disease to resume sex.
The term heart disease refers to several types of heart conditions. The most common type of heart disease in the United States is coronary artery disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Coronary heart disease affects the blood flow to the heart. Decreased blood flow can cause a heart attack.
We hear this question often from heart disease patients, especially those recovering from a recent heart episode. Resuming sexual relations are an important part of recovering from a heart disease episode as is returning to work, establishing a diet and exercise program, and getting back to a normal life.
People with heart disease can eventually enjoy a sexually active life. Some patients are advised to defer such activity until their heart condition is stabilized. Many others are able to resume sexual activity without fear of complications due to heart disease.
If you have concerns about sex and heart disease, don’t be shy. Speak to your cardiologist and get a medical opinion about resuming sexual activity.
Usually within one to six weeks after being discharged from the hospital. Work with your cardiologist to determine a timetable that best suits your condition and situation.
It’s always a good idea to have this conversation with your cardiologist. This information from the American Heart Association should help you start the conversation:
* Ask your doctor to evaluate you before resuming sexual activity.
* If you’ve had heart failure or a heart attack, cardiac rehabilitation and regular physical activity can reduce the risk of complications related to sexual activity.
* If you’re a woman thinking about starting birth control or getting pregnant, be sure to talk to your doctor first.
* If you’re experiencing sexual dysfunction, check with your doctor to see whether it could be related to cardiovascular disease or to anxiety, depression or other factors.
* Don’t skip the medications that could improve cardiovascular symptoms because you’re concerned they could impact your sex drive or function. Your heart health should come first.
* Drugs to treat erectile dysfunction are generally safe, although they shouldn’t be used if you’re receiving nitrate therapy for chest pains due to coronary artery disease. They also
shouldn’t be taken within 24 to 48 hours of using an erectile dysfunction drug (depending on the drug used).
* If you’re a post-menopausal woman with cardiovascular disease, it’s generally safe to use estrogen that’s topically or vaginally inserted for the treatment of painful intercourse.
If you can climb a couple of flights of stairs without any heart symptoms such as chest pain, you’re likely OK to have sex. A stress test – which is done to help your cardiologist determine how effectively your heart handles a workload – also can help ease your mind.
For information, call Aurora BayCare Cardiology at 800-236-6309.