What to Do When Heart Disease Hurts Your Sex Life

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qqqAs per movies and soap operas, sex can be quite dangerous for people with heart conditions. Research shows that it triggers heart attacks in people, especially men. However, the odds to literally succumb to passion are quite low. According to a study conducted in 1996 by researchers at the Harvard Medical School, sexual activity is a contributing factor for less than a percent of heart attacks.

Though heart attacks during sex are rare, no one wants to be unfortunate few to die while getting lucky. If you have cardiovascular disease or even if it runs in your family, it’s significant to ask your doctor what type of sexual activity is safe.

According to current guidelines, in case you just had a heart attack you should wait for three to four weeks before having intercourse. If you have heart failure, your doctor may recommend avoiding lying on your back during sex as fluid is more likely to pool in the lungs. Physical danger posed by sexual activity is least of your problems but there are plenty of other ways for heart disease to curtail sex life. Incision pain post bypass surgery and emotional stress of living with a heart condition can get in the way of intimacy.

Heart conditions and sexual activity can interact in complicated ways which is difficult to tell apart. Often heart patients are uncomfortable discussing about their sex lives with their doctors and vice versa. Most doctors don’t have time or personality to talk about sex with their heart patients as they are evasive about it. They would not bring it up themselves and even if their patients bring it, the doctor may be hesitant to discuss it.

So here’s what a heart patient should do- prepare a list of intimacy questions in advance of your next check up. Don’t let your doctor’s squirming deter you. Meanwhile check answers to three rarely asked questions about heart disease and sex.

Is my sexual dysfunction related to my heart?

The relation between cardiovascular disease and sexual dysfunction is well established in men. For years, researchers have known that ED is disproportionately common among men with CVD. Although ED can be result from a number of factors including psychological ones but majority of it can be traced to vascular problems. As per a study in the Journal of American Medical Association in 2005, ED is described as a harbinger of cardiovascular events. It is important that both patient and their partner talk to their doctor about sexual dysfunction as it could be a sign for a cardiac problem.

The relationship between CVD and sexual dysfunction is less clear in women. Though sexual dissatisfaction in women has been linked to peripheral arterial disease, mechanisms of female sexual functions are less intertwined with cardiovascular system.

Do my heart meds have any sexual side effects?

If your heart doesn’t cause problems in bedroom then medicines you take to keep it healthy might. Many medications commonly prescribed to heart patients have sexual side effects on both men and women. The sexual side effects include ED and loss of libido. Fibrates and statins are cholesterol lowering drugs linked with ED. Blood pressure medications contribute to sexual dysfunction among women. Calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers, diuretics and angiotensin-II receptor antagonists are all related to ED.

If you suspect your heart medications to be interfering with your sex life, explain it to your doctor and ask for alternative medications.

Why can’t I get in the mood?

Though medications dampen your sex drive, the psychological factors play an important part since the emotional strain accompanying heart disease can impact sex life. After a heart attack, you are physically weak and so you may find that any activity in the bedroom leaves you paralyzed with anxiety. You may be terrified and experience lot of chest pains when things get heated. Also there is a possible role of depression in heart disease and sexual dysfunction.


Sexual dysfunction due to heart problem may be a sign of underlying emotional issues. People may have had a heart attack six months ago so they believe they can’t have sex now when it could be actually unhappiness which they fail to notice.

You may also read:

6 Heart Health Mistakes Made by Women—and How to Avoid Them

Slideshare: 7 silent signs of a heart attack

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