Yes, women have hearts that are different from the male species, although therapy and medical investigations have been devoted mostly to the male heart. If you don’t believe me, just read a wonderful book by Stephen T. Sinatra and his co-authors, Jan Sinatra, RN,MSN and Roberta Jo Lieberman, “Heart Sense For Women.”
What about the sexual sense that embraces the hearts of men and women? You would think there is a difference since the female heart is bathed in estrogens, while the male heart enjoys its surrounding hormone, testosterone.
Today, I would like to concentrate on the male sexual heart when it gets injured due to a heart attack. Specifically, his thoughts and fears about sexual relations after an attack.
On the day of his hospital discharge, Mr. J. a robust, overweight 57-year-old man was recovering from a myocardial infarction (heart attack), and was given all the dos and don’ts about exercise, diet and stress. As he was leaving his hospital room, arm in arm with his beautiful wife, he pulled aside an inexperienced intern and asked, “What about my sex life doc?” The intern was stunned since he had never discussed this aspect to a patient or ever really learned it in medical school. The intern, a bit embarrassed, told him that he should discuss this with his cardiologist and that recently he had read that dark chocolate protects the heart because it contain a lot of antioxidants. The patient smiled and off he went with his worrisome wife. Of course, she was also unaware how his sexual life would change.
Upon visiting his cardiologist, Mr. J., who had not indulged in any sexual activity since his heart attack, was anxious to learn from the doctor what his limitations would be. The cardiologist had certain things in his mind toward education of his patient. Some of these facts are the following:
• 70 percent of doctors surveyed felt that sexual intercourse could be performed four to six weeks after a heart attack.
• 92 percent of doctors also thought that patient should undergo some form of an exercise program prior to intercourse.
• 56 percent of doctors believed that patients should engage in less demanding sexual activity (I guess you know what that means).
• 87 percent of men and women thought the doctor should tell the patient when they could resume sexual activity.
• 54 percent of the doctors felt that men have a higher incidence of shortness of breath and chest pain during intercourse and 45 percent felt there was no difference between the sexes.
It is obvious that there is no 100 percent agreement of when sexual intercourse should resume after a heart attack and really it is based upon the physical and mental health of the patient. As far as the mental health is concerned, most post heart attack patients are afraid of exerting themselves, which may lead to a recurrence of another attack. It is therefore prudent that the cardiologist should calm the patient’s fears with a direct plan that the patient can easily follow. Since many men experience erectile dysfunction (ED), they may request a medication such as Viagra, which enhances sexual activity. In many cases this may be prescribed if the patient is not on any medication containing nitrates or has a history of previous congestive heart failure for which he is taking medication.
There are many unanswered questions concerning post myocardial infarction (heart attack), however, a majority of patients do continue to resume normal sexual relationships with their loved one. It is very important, however, to have a full understanding from their cardiologist of how to proceed following a heart attack.
The most important thing however is to maintain a healthy heart by keeping your blood pressure under control… exercising daily… adding nutrients to your diet such as vitamins and minerals…. discontinuing all tobacco products and lowering your cholesterol. Reduce stress with any means possible.