Sexual activity and ischemic heart disease

Curr Cardiol Rep. 2014 Feb;16(2):445. doi: 10.1007/s11886-013-0445-4.


Human sexuality is an important aspect of health and quality of life. Many patients with ischemic heart disease - and their partners - are concerned that sexual activity could exacerbate their cardiac condition, possibly causing myocardial infarction or cardiac death. Patients with ischemic heart disease who wish to initiate or resume sexual activity should be evaluated with a thorough medical history and physical examination. Sexual activity is reasonable for individuals with no or mild angina and those who can exercise ≥ 3-5 METS without angina, excessive dyspnea, or ischemic ST segment changes. For the patient who is considered not be at low cardiovascular (CV) risk or in whom the CV risk is unknown, an exercise stress test is reasonable in order to determine his or her exercise capacity and to ascertain if symptoms or ischemia may occur. Regular exercise and cardiac rehabilitation can be effective in reducing the risk of CV complications associated with sexual activity for the patient with ischemic heart disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angina Pectoris / etiology
  • Angina Pectoris / physiopathology
  • Cardiovascular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / etiology
  • Exercise Test / methods
  • Humans
  • Myocardial Infarction / etiology
  • Myocardial Infarction / physiopathology
  • Myocardial Ischemia / drug therapy
  • Myocardial Ischemia / physiopathology*
  • Myocardial Ischemia / rehabilitation
  • Phosphodiesterase 5 Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology*


  • Cardiovascular Agents
  • Phosphodiesterase 5 Inhibitors