Experts explain a heart attack as what happens when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a section of heart muscle suddenly becomes blocked and the heart can’t get oxygen. If blood flow isn’t restored quickly, the section of heart muscle begins to die.
For any heart attack patient, it is obviously a traumatic and frightening experience. A heart attack being a sudden severe instance of abnormal heart function, it suggests that the heart is subjected to a wrenching experience. Sex however, is a pleasant experience, yet in the process, the heart is called to duty wherein there is a rush of blood flow – pumped to all the erogenous zones in order to make a perfect sexual experience possible.
During sexual intercourse, the body has responses that are normal – increased blood pressure and heart rate. In young, healthy people, the physical demands of intercourse are somewhat akin to climbing two flights of the staircase. In older folks and persons with heart disease, the effort may call for more hard work.
Suffice it to say that during sex the heart is put under ‘pressure’, yet experts say despite this, less than one per cent of all heart attacks occur during sexual activity. On the other hand, we are also reminded that being inactive increases that risk, so it is important to include other physical activity in your routine to help lower the possibility of a heart attack, experts say. In allaying the fears of many, studies show that only 0.6-1.7 per cent of deaths actually occur during intercourse.
And so it makes sense that patients after having a heart attack become afraid to resume sexual activity for fear of having another one. The apprehension could be as high as avoiding sex totally, not just for fear of another heart attack, but also for the fear of having to die while having sex! It is understandable therefore that both the patient and their partners are afraid to go back to sex, or doing any ‘strenuous’ routine activities including things like driving, exercise, etc. on the part of the patient.
Yes, sex is meant to be a private affair between couples, and of course it is an important part of any healthy and happy adult relationship. But it is not usually a topic that doctors bring up when seeing patients; still, no one can deny that it is not a regular on the minds of affected couples. It is only reasonable then that you do not hesitate to open up conversations with your doctors on this issue.
Contrary to popular beliefs however, and according to an article on WebMD, a renowned online medical review publication, resuming sex after a heart attack is safe for most people. It says, “It is safe for most people after they have had a heart attack.
“After a heart attack, you can resume sexual activity when you are healthy and feel ready for it. You could be ready if you can do mild or moderate activity, like brisk walking, without having angina symptoms. Your doctor might tell you that if you can climb two flights of stairs without having any symptoms, you are healthy enough for sex.”
It is proven that the risk of having a heart attack during sexual intercourse after having recovered from an attack is very low. Just about 1 in a hundred cases of heart attack may be associated with sexual activity, experts say. But again, you are well advised to consult your doctor if you observe any symptoms that may worry you, such as angina (chest pain or pressure) as you resume having sex.
Meanwhile, experts advocate that as you embark on resuming sex after a bout of heart attack, you bear in mind some basic helpful tips:
- Be open and talk to your partner about it; they are bound to reason along with you on the matter.
- Resume sex gradually – kissing and caressing, etc.
- Choose a quiet relaxing place where you will not be distracted.
- Do not embark on sex immediately after a full meal; give it at least one to three hours to digest.
- Take a break to rest if you have angina symptoms during sex; call or see your doctor if the symptoms persist.
- And, do not forget to share your experiences concerning symptoms during sex, with your doctor.