Many heart attack patients are concerned about resuming sexual relations. Some patients worry they are not healthy enough and that sexual activity will put too much strain on the heart or cause another heart attack. Partners of heart attack patients often worry about these issues even more so than the patient. As a result of these concerns, many couples are reluctant to resume sexual activity.

Most patients are safely able to resume sexual relations at some point after a heart attack. The strain on the heart during sexual intercourse is about the same as from walking up two flights of stairs. However, specific recommendations for resuming sexual relations depend on a number of factors, including the severity of the heart attack and the degree of residual heart function. The decision to resume sexual relations should be discussed with a physician.

Some men and women become depressed after a heart attack, which can interfere with sexual drive and performance. In addition, men who are taking beta-blockers may experience erectile dysfunction. Abrupt discontinuation of these medications is dangerous and discontinuation should be discussed with a physician.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 02 Jul 2000

Last Modified: 15 Jan 2015