Our survey of Heart Matters readers shows sex isn't getting the attention it deserves in the consultation room.
We asked our Heart Matters readers about their sex lives, and found that a third have sex less often, and one in five aren't having sex at all because of their heart condition.
After polling over 1,500 people with heart conditions we also found one in five people we asked said they were worried about having a heart attack or cardiac arrest during sex.
Our survey revealed it isn’t just the physical effects that are blighting peoples’ sex lives – 14 per cent said they had lost interest in sex because of the emotional impact of their heart condition, and five per cent said scarring from an operation made them feel sexually unattractive.
Sex isn’t what you base a relationship on, but it is really important
Thirty-six year old Martin Tailford, who on Christmas day 2011 had a heart attack and has since had difficulty having sex with his wife Louise, said:
“After my heart attack sex wasn’t natural, it required a lot more planning. I couldn’t spontaneously have sex. I needed to think what to wear to cover up the scars and bruises.
“Sex isn’t what you base a relationship on, but it is really important. My heart attack had put a strain on Louise, and not being able to be physically close to her really took its toll on our relationship. I would advise people in my position to get help as soon as they can, and not be disappointed if things don’t go well at first. It takes time.”
People aren’t getting the help they need
Thirty per cent of people have not discussed the issue with anyone, including their doctor. Eight per cent would have liked to access professional help but couldn’t get any.
Doireann Maddock, our Senior Cardiac Nurse, said:
“Sex is a hugely important part of life, but isn’t getting the attention it deserves in the consultation room. We’re hearing loud and clear from Heart Matters readers that they need better support and information on how to deal with issues affecting their sex lives.
"Problems like erectile dysfunction can often be tackled and rectified, but the first hurdle is identifying people who need that help. We’d like patients to feel comfortable and empowered to raise these issues, and for the NHS to proactively offer support in this area to everyone who needs it.”