Fewer than one out of five acute myocardial infarction (AMI) patients get advice from their doctor on whether they can resume sexual activity, and what information they do get often is wrong. These findings were published online Dec. 15 in Circulation.

Stacy Tessler Lindau, M.D., director of integrative sexual medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center, and colleagues asked 3,501 women and men ages 18 to 55 about the counseling on sexual activity they received following their AMI. The questions were asked of patients at 127 hospitals in the United States and Spain from 2008 to 2012.

One month after their AMI, only 12 percent of women and 19 percent of men in the study reported receiving sexual counseling from their health care provider. In the instances when patients did discuss sex with their doctors, 68 percent were given unwarranted restrictions, the researchers found. About 35 percent of those counseled were told to limit sex, 26 percent were told to take a more passive role, and 23 percent were instructed to keep their heart rate down during sex.

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“There’s no evidence for making these specific kinds of recommendations, and they’re also kind of hard to implement, when you think about it,” Lindau told HealthDay. “The vast majority of people who have a heart attack do not receive any counseling from their physician about sex,” she said. “If a doctor doesn’t bring it up, there are some who will not resume sexual activity because they fear it could trigger another heart attack.”


  1. Lindau, S, et al. Circulation, December 15, 2014; doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.114.012709