Lead author Emily M. Abramsohn of the University of Chicago and colleagues surveyed 17 women in depth about their sex lives before and after their heart attacks. The women were selected from a large, multi-state study of health and sexual outcomes after heart attack.
The women, average age 60, were married or in long-term relationships.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found most women and many of their partners were afraid to have sex again and they wondered when it was safe to resume sex and how much exertion their hearts could handle.
Despite this fear, most women resumed having sex, many within four weeks to be close to their partner again and get back to a "normal" life, Abramsohn said.
The women who talked with their doctors about resuming sex said they most initiated the discussion. They were not happy with the quality of information they got, the study found.
Cardiologists could ease concerns about sex after a heart attack if they talked openly with their patients about what to expect, Abramsohn said. The discussion should start while the woman is still in the hospital and continue throughout her recovery with other members of her healthcare team, Abramsohn said.