For Heart Event Survivors

Sex after a heart event

When is it safe to engage in sexual activity?

What you need to know

If you’ve had a heart event, or are living with heart disease, you may feel like you’ve got a lot of rules to follow. Take your medications. Improve your diet. Exercise. Don’t stress. Don’t smoke.

But do you need to worry about sex? Most likely, no. The American Heart Association (AHA) says that for most people with stable cardiovascular disease, there’s little risk from engaging in sex. Be sure to talk to your doctor before engaging in sexual activity.

Understanding the risk

The risk of having a heart attack, chest pain or other cardiovascular event during sex is “miniscule," the AHA says.

Studies conducted primarily in young married men showed that sexual activity with a person’s usual partner is comparable to “mild to moderate physical activity” similar to climbing two flights of stairs or walking briskly for a short duration. This may be different for older patients or those who are sick.

In addition, the risk of sudden death during sexual intercourse is low. Studies rates of sudden death associated with sexual activity ranging from 0.6% to 1.7%.

When will you be ready?

How soon after a heart event it’s safe to resume sexual activity varies from person to person. It involves not only physical health but also emotional readiness.

"Yes, it is complicated, but with a positive outlook, relaxation techniques, such as meditation and Reiki, plus daily exercise, I am a survivor."
Kathleen P., I am ProHeart Community Member