By Teresa Garcia, CBS News
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Newlywed Derek Avdul and his wife Jean love to run. But during a race last fall, his life changed in an instant when he collapsed in cardiac arrest. Bystanders jumped in to help.
“Then the paramedics came. They had to shock me to get my heart started again,” Avdul said.
With a family history of heart problems, the 44 year old knew it was important to get healthy and active again.
Derek’s doctor, UCLA cardiologist Dr. Sam Daneshvar, says “activity” also includes intimacy.
“Sexual activity is a form of physical activity and we try to assess what level of physical activity our patients are capable of doing,” Dr. Daneshvar said.
Now for the first time, the American Heart Association has released a statement urging doctors to have a conversation with their patients about how to resume a healthy sex life after a cardiac event.
“Patients may still be nervous and apprehensive about those activities,” he said.
The American Heart Association recommends a stress test for some patients to make sure their heart is strong enough for physical activity.
“On average, sexual activity leads us to do about the same amount of exertion as climbing a couple of flights of stairs,” Dr. Daneshvar said.
Most patients can get back to their usual routines within two months after a heart attack.
After doctors gave Derek the all clear, he received some good news that will certainly help motivate him to stay healthy.
“My wife is expecting our first child,” Avdul said.
Doctors advise cardiac patients to seek prompt medical attention if any physical activity ever causes any chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or abnormal heartbeats.