(HealthDay News) – Women who resume sexual activity following a myocardial infarction (MI) often do so with fear and without direct counseling by their physician, according to a study published online July 24 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Emily M. Abramsohn, MPH, from the University of Chicago , and colleagues conducted semi-structured, qualitative telephone interviews with 17 partnered females (ages 43–75 years) selected from their participation in the Translational Research Investigating Underlying Disparities in Acute Myocardial Infarction Patients’ Health Status study.

The researchers found that sexual activity was resumed within four weeks of MI by most women. Patient and/or partner fear of “causing another heart attack” was one of the prevalent sexual problems or concerns cited. Counseling regarding sexual concerns or safety of returning to sex was only received by a few women. Most physician discussions about sex were initiated by the women. Among the themes cited as strategies to improve sexual outcomes were: need for privacy, patient-centeredness, and information about timing and safe resumption of sexual activity. Respondents believed that counseling should be initiated by the treating cardiologist and then reinforced by the care team throughout the rehabilitation period.

“Partnered women commonly resume sexual activity soon after an MI with fear but without directed counseling from their physicians,” the authors write.

One author is the recipient of a research grant from Medtronic and is the chair of a cardiac scientific advisory board for UnitedHealth.

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