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AHA: Without Doctor's Advice, Sex Declines After Heart Attack

Less than half of men, about one-third of women get sex advice at hospital discharge

FRIDAY, May 21 (HealthDay News) -- Heart attack patients who don't talk to their physicians before hospital discharge about when it is safe to resume sex are likely to engage in less sexual activity in the year after their heart attack, and discussion with a physician about sex is less common for women than men, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Quality of Care and Outcomes Research in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke 2010 Scientific Sessions, held May 19-21 in Washington, D.C.

Stacy Lindau, M.D., of the University of Chicago, and colleagues surveyed 1,184 male and 576 female patients at one-month and one-year follow-up after heart attack about discussions with their physicians about sexual activity as well as pre- and post-heart attack sexual activity. The researchers assessed changes in sexual activity and used gender-specific multivariate analyses to determine predictors of reduced sexual activity.

The researchers found that 43.1 percent of women and 73.5 percent of men were sexually active before their heart attack. They found that 46.3 percent of men and 34.5 percent of women discussed sexual activity with their physicians at hospital discharge and received advice on when to resume it. During the course of first year, 38.8 percent of men and 17.5 percent of women talked about sex with their physicians. While 67.7 percent of men and 40.6 percent of women reported some sexual activity in the first year, men were 1.3 times and women 1.4 times more likely to report reduced sexual activity if their physician didn't discuss with them when it was safe to resume it.

"Discussion with a physician about sex occurs much less often for women than men. Lack of physician-patient communication about sex prior to hospital discharge after [a heart attack] is independently associated with loss of sexual activity at one year," the authors write.

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