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Matters of the Heart
Reclaiming Intimacy After a Heart Attack

By Mary Damiano

(Page 2 of 3)

In an editorial published with the study results, Robert F. Debusk, M.D., Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California, wrote about the study as well as physicians reluctance to talk sex with their patients. "The prospects for a rapid and complete recovery from acute MI [heart attack] and avoidance of future cardiac events have never been better. However, despite these favorable prospects, physicians and patients are too often burdened by the misconception that sexual activity after acute MI is dangerous." 

Baxley says that her doctor never addressed the subject of sex directly, but once her doctor said it was safe to resume normal activities, she figured that meant all activities.

Still, there was some trepidation. “I went to him for another follow-up. He wanted me to exercise at a gym, and he said I could resume my normal activities, and without asking him that question, I just took it upon myself,” she says. “I was still a little afraid, but since he said I could resume my regular activities, I went ahead and everything was fine.”

Like many caregivers, Baxley says her husband, Jesse, had his own concerns. “He was a little concerned. He kept asking me if everything was all right, if I felt all right to go ahead. In my mind, if the doctor said I could exercise and do all my activities, that would not hurt. Then I felt better about it. I felt more secure about it.”

Debusk also wrote that his desire for doctors to be more open with their patients as the result of Muller’s research. “It is hoped that the valuable study by Muller et al will also embolden physicians to overcome their reticence to discuss this vital aspect of human functioning with their patients. After all, patients are interested not only in the years in their lives, but also in the liveliness of their years.”

Nearly a year later, the Baxleys enjoy the kind of relationship they had before the heart attack. 

Tips For Intimacy After a Heart Attack

Don’t have sex if you’re upset or angry. Stress makes the heart beat faster, and having sex at that time will only burden the heart further.

Don’t take medication right before sexual relations unless your doctor has advised. Some people think this will help prevent a heart attack, but taking medication in a way other than the doctor prescribes is not advised.


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