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American Heart Association Wants Cardiologists to Discuss Sexual Issues With Their Patients

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Newlywed Derek Avdul and his wife Jean love to run.

But during a race last fall, life changed in an instant— Derek collapsed in cardiac arrest.  Bystanders jumped in to help.

"Then the paramedics came," Derek recalls. "They had to shock me to get my heart started again."

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 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," he says.

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," says Dr. Daneshvar.

The American Heart Association recommends a stress test for some 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."

Most patients can get back to their usual routines within two months after a heart attack.

After doctors gave Derek the all clear, more good news soon followed:

Derek's wife is expecting their first child.

He says that's even more motivation to stay healthy.

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.