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Can Heart Failure, Atrial Fibrillation Patients Have Sex?

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It’s natural to be afraid that any form of exertion, including sex, will bring on another episode (of atrial fibrillation or heart failure). It’s also natural for the partner who doesn’t have the cardiac condition to be concerned…

Yes, people who have atrial fibrillation can have sex. Yes, you can have sex after a heart attack or other forms of heart failure. In fact, sex is good exercise says the last study linked below. I have chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy (CIC) and have been living with AFib since late 2010. I consider sex to be a form of cardiac rehabilitation.

But with a couple of addendums…

Sex, according to the article linked below, is 1) heart healthy exercise and 2) mind-body therapy. Okay, I’ll admit to adding the term “mind-body therapy.” But the article does say that sex (exercise) helps a person “maintain a positive outlook and upbeat mood.” To me, that’s mind-body therapy.

The only caveat, a word to the wise, really, is to talk with your cardiologist. For instance, are you having any other heart problems? Can you walk up a flight of stairs? And in my experience as a person who has lived with chronic afib since 2010, these questions are not about afib, they are more about checking your heart for things beyond atrial fibrillation.

Likewise if you are having problems with erectile dysfunction. According to the article below, it is probably the beta blocker medication that is causing your ED, not your afib. But the point is that you should discuss this with your cardiologist.

If you can lower your blood pressure enough, perhaps you can either lower the dose that is causing your ED, or you might be able to discontinue the medication altogether. Incentive…

To learn more about evidence-based non-toxic therapies shown to reduce BP, scroll down the page post a question or comment and I will reply to you ASAP.

Thanks

David Emerson

  • CIC Survivor
  • Cardiac Rehab Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

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Is it safe to have sex if I have heart failure?

“If you’re living with heart failure, you know that physical activity may leave you feeling fatigued or short of breath. If exercise makes you feel winded you might wonder—is it safe to have sex?

Sex is typically a moderate form of exercise—it generally falls into the same activity level as climbing two or three flights of stairs. So, it’s not uncommon for those with heart failure to worry that having sex might further harm the heart, especially after surgery or a procedure. Also, heart failure medications may dampen the sex drive or cause unpleasant sexual side effects. An estimated 60% to 87% of those living with heart failure say they have sexual problems.

However, remaining sexually active is important for maintaining a healthy quality of life and to stay connected to your partner. How do you do that with heart failure? Stick with your cardiac rehabilitation plan. The American Heart Association says cardiac rehab and exercise can decrease the risk of sex-related complications in those with heart failure. Research suggests that participating in an exercise program helps boost oxygen levels and reduces your during sexual activity, making it safer and more pleasant…

So skip sex until your doctor says you are stable. Start with kissing and touching. Take all your medications as directed, and don’t skip meds for fear of sexual side effects. Don’t try over-the-counter herbs or supplements to boost your sex drive, either. If you have any sexual difficulties, don’t be shy about talking to your cardiologist or other doctor…”

Active sex life tied to long-term survival after a heart attack

“Less than half of sexually inactive people lived with a steady partner in the year before their heart attack, compared with 94% of people who had sex more than once a week.

In the year prior to the heart attack, 67% of the people who didn’t have sex also didn’t exercise at all, compared with 45% of people who had sex more than weekly.

When researchers adjusted for age, lifestyle, other health conditions and socioeconomic factors, the link between being sexually active and survival weakened,..

It’s possible frequent sex leads to biological changes that help people live longer, Gerber’s team writes. Sex is associated with longer caps on the end of chromosomes, known as telomeres, that tend to shrink with age and in response to stress, the study team writes. Longer telomeres are associated with longer life.

Regular sex is also linked to higher levels of the hormone testosterone in men and women, they add. Low testosterone is associated with both an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and low sexual desire – so people who have more sex may also have a lower risk of heart problems.

It’s also possible that being sexually active is a sign of better health rather than a cause of it. The study wasn’t designed to determine whether or how sex might help heart attack survivors live longer.

Sexual activity is often part of a close and loving relationship as people age, but the relationship is probably more important than the sex,” Steptoe, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email. “Although regular sex is part of healthy aging, people should not feel that they ‘ought’ to have sex in order to try to live longer.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/2YFImb4 American Journal of Medicine, online July 8, 2019.”

The heart of a healthy sex life

A regular sex life offers many heart health benefits. But can you stay sexually active with heart issues?

“Regular sex is good medicine for your heart. But what if you’ve had a heart attack or a heart procedure? When is it safe to resume sex again — and should you?…

Sex and Atrial Fibrillation: What Doctors Want You to Know

“The chaotic beating of atrial fibrillation, a condition that causes your heart to quiver rapidly, can be frightening — even if it only lasts for a short time. It’s natural to be afraid that any form of exertion, including sex, will bring on another episode. It’s also natural for the partner who doesn’t have the cardiac condition to be concerned…

But fears of negative consequences from having sex when you’re living with atrial fibrillation are largely unfounded…

“I can assure you that the risk of an episode of atrial fibrillation is not increased by any particular activity,” says Dr. Kowey. “It would be very unusual to have that reliable a relationship between a physical activity, including sex, and atrial fibrillation…”

Are You Heart-Healthy for Sex?

As long as you’re not having any heart symptoms, you’re under the care of a doctor, you’re physically active, and any heart conditions are under control, then having sex is safe…

In fact, Dr. Day says that not only is sex safe for atrial fibrillation patients, but he would also encourage it within a monogamous relationship because sex is actually very healthy for the heart…

Sex does cause your heart rate and blood pressure to rise. But as Day explains, sex is really a mild or moderate physical activity. “If you are able to walk briskly or climb two flights of stairs with no problems, your heart should hold up just fine during sex.”

Because sex is exercise, it’s good for the heart. Exercise can help you maintain a positive outlook and upbeat mood. It also helps you maintain a healthy weight and regulate your biological rhythms so you sleep better at night.

Kowey says that getting the all-clear from your doctor that you can have sex and that it won’t affect your atrial fibrillation puts the mind at ease. “Just the reassurance for many of these patients is enough therapy for them,” he says.

The misconception about sex and the heart may come from Hollywood. It’s really only in the movies where men drop dead of heart attacks during or immediately after sex, says Day, adding that in real life, a sex-induced heart attack is an incredibly rare event…

Sexual Side Effects of Afib Heart Medication

Ironically, it could be your medication, rather than the atrial fibrillation itself, that’s interfering with intimacy. Your doctor may prescribe beta-blockers to lower your blood pressure, and some men experience erectile dysfunction (ED) as a side effect…

The takeaway? Knowing that your doctor is ready and willing to reassure you and answer your questions should be the impetus you need to voice your concerns. If you’re living with atrial fibrillation, you don’t have to wait for the doctor to bring up the subject of sex.”

 

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