Valentine’s Day is coming up, which is a celebration of love, intimacy, and the heart. It’s also a good time to address a sticky question that many people don’t want to ask, whether you can safely engage in intimacy after a heart attack or stroke.
While sudden death from intimacy is rare, many of my cardiac patients have said they felt vulnerable about their heart. In fact, it's a common fear that many of my patients didn’t share until they get beyond their hesitation or embarrassment to talk about their love life.
But let me dispel this myth. Intimacy can be very good for your heart and can have a major impact in healing your heart and restoring your vitality. In fact, I’m convinced that a loving relationship is a pathway to optimum health.
Intimacy—like a flood of tears, a good laugh or even deep breathing—creates a tremendous emotional and physical release of energy that is extremely healing if we surrender. When we allow this to happen, there's a spontaneous release of trapped energy that nurtures the pulsating action of the heart.
If your doctor's given you the green light to resume your love life, here are some tips to do that safely:
- Avoid placing any strain upon the chest muscles, particularly if you've just had surgery. Instead, try a side-lying position which puts less strain on the heart and chest.
- Avoid intimacy one to two hours after meals (digestion shunts blood to the gut, making less available to the heart).
- Do not consume excessive amounts of alcohol.
- Don't pressure yourself or your partner; the mental anxiety may put more of a strain on the heart than the physical activity.
- Listen to your body. If what you're doing feels alright, chances are, you'll be alright.
Now it’s your turn: Do you have plans for Valentine’s Day?