Sex and cardiovascular disease

HEART ATTACK, STROKE, major HEART surgery such as CORONARY ARTERY BYPASS GRAFT (CABG) or HEART TRANSPLANTATION, or the diagnosis of a cardiovascular condition such as HYPERTENSION (high BLOOD PRESSURE) or CORONARY ARTERY DISEASE (CAD) often causes worry and fear that sexual activity may harm the heart. Such concerns are common though generally have no medical basis. Sexual intercourse requires about the same level of cardiovascular response from the body as walking up three flights of stairs. Following a cardiovascular event, most people may resume sexual activity when they regain interest.

These preparations may make the return to sexual activity more enjoyable:

  • Plan sexual activity for when both partners are well rested, relaxed, and have no time constraints.
  • Plan sexual activity to take place two to three hours after eating a meal, to allow digestion to take place. Digestion diverts more of the body’s blood supply to the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Choose a location that is comfortable and free from distractions such as the telephone or interruptions.
  • Choose less strenuous positions and have extra pillows available for added support.
  • Be patient and focus on the intimacy of being together.

People who have had OPEN HEART SURGERY or who have residual complications resulting from stroke may feel unsure of their physical attractiveness. Open, honest communication between partners can help put these concerns in perspective and allow each partner to express his or her feelings.

See also LIVING WITH CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE; QUALITY OF LIFE.

Sexual activity and cardiovascular disease
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