It’s not an easy conversation to have. After a heart attack or other major cardiac event, talking about sex is awkward, and often avoided by patients, their partners, and physicians. But a new consensus statement from several major cardiology organizations urges physicians to get over their reluctance or embarrassment and counsel their cardiac patients about this important, but often neglected, aspect of their lives.
After a patient has a heart attack, stroke, cardiac surgery, cardiac device implantation, or is newly diagnosed with a cardiovascular condition, physicians and other healthcare professionals should provide individually tailored information and advice about a wide variety of issues relating to sexual activity, according to the consensus document developed by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the European Society of Cardiology and published in Circulation and the European Heart Journal. The advice “should address topics such as when to resume sex, specific methods and recommended positions, and the role of intimacy without sex,” said the American Heart Association in a press release.
The statement cites numerous concerns, both psychological and physiological, that patients may have after a coronary event, including “general anxiety, fear of having another MI, feeling unwanted by their partner or not good enough, changes in self-perceptions, inadequate knowledge regarding the impact of heart medications, and finally, partner concerns.”