(HealthDay News) – For most individuals with stable cardiovascular disease (CVD), sexual activity is safe, according to a scientific statement from the American Heart Association published online January 19 in Circulation.

Glenn N. Levine, M.D., from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and colleagues synthesized and summarized data relevant to sexual activity and heart disease in order to provide recommendations for physicians and patients.

The authors report that following diagnosis of CVD, patients should be evaluated by their health care provider before resuming sexual activity. Patients with stable symptoms and good functional capacity generally have a low risk for adverse events associated with sexual activity. For patients with unstable or severe symptoms, treatment and stabilization should precede resumption of sexual activity. For those who have had heart failure, or a heart attack, cardiac rehabilitation and regular physical activity can reduce the risk of complications related to sexual activity. Women with CVD should be advised on the safety of contraceptive methods and pregnancy, based on their profile. Erectile dysfunction drugs are generally safe for men who have stable CVD, but they should be avoided by patients receiving nitrate therapy for chest pains due to coronary artery disease. The cause of sexual dysfunction — underlying vascular or cardiac disease, anxiety, depression, or other factors — should be identified, and counseling provided, as appropriate.

“Sexual activity is an important component of patient and partner quality of life, and it is reasonable for most patients with CVD to engage in sexual activity,” the authors write.

Several members of the writing group disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.

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