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Health

MONDAY HEALTH TALKS: Should you have Sex after a heart attack?

Some people worry about having sex after a heart attack, but most people can safely return to sexual activity after recovery. When you can resume sexual activity will depend on your physical comfort, emotional readiness and previous sexual activity. Ask your doctor when it’s safe to have sex.

Signs and Symptoms

Common heart attack signs and symptoms include:

  • Pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms that may spread to your neck, jaw or back.
  • Nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Cold sweat.
  • Fatigue.
  • Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness.
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Lifestyle and home remedies

To improve your heart health, take the following steps:

  • Avoid smoking. The most important thing you can do to improve your heart’s health is to not smoke. Also, avoid being around secondhand smoke. If you need to quit, ask your doctor for help.
  • Control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. If one or both of these is high, your doctor can prescribe changes to your diet and medications. Ask your doctor how often you need to have your blood pressure and cholesterol levels monitored.
  • Get regular medical checkups. Some of the major risk factors for a heart attack — high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes — cause no symptoms early on. Your doctor can test for these conditions and can help you manage them, if necessary.
  • Exercise. Regular exercise helps improve heart muscle function after a heart attack and helps prevent a heart attack. Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight strains your heart and can contribute to high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet. Saturated fat, trans fats and cholesterol in your diet can narrow arteries to your heart, and too much salt can raise blood pressure. Eat a heart-healthy diet that includes lean proteins, such as fish and beans, and fruits and vegetables and whole grains.
  • Manage diabetes. Regular exercise, eating well and losing weight all help to keep blood sugar levels at more-desirable levels. Many people also need medication to manage their diabetes.
  • Control stress. Reduce stress in your day-to-day activities. Rethink workaholic habits and find healthy ways to minimize or deal with stressful events in your life.
  • Avoid or limit alcohol. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men.

Coping and support

Having a heart attack is scary, and you might wonder how it will affect your life and whether you’ll have another one.

Fear, anger, guilt and depression are all common after a heart attack. Discussing them with your doctor, a family member or a friend might help. Or consider talking to a mental health provider or joining a support group.

It’s important to mention signs or symptoms of depression to your doctor. Cardiac rehabilitation programs can be effective in preventing or treating depression after a heart attack.

Some heart medications can affect sexual function. If you’re having problems with sexual dysfunction, talk to your doctor.

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