coupletalkSex is impossible for a fifth of people with heart conditions, according to new statistics released by the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

The BHF polled over 1,500 people with heart conditions (www.bhf.org.uk/sex) and found 32% had sex less often with a futher 19% having stopped completely as a result of their heart condition.

Additionally, 1 in 5 respondents said they were worried about having a heart attack or cardiac arrest during sex.

Doireann Maddock, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the BHF, said: “Sex is a hugely important part of life, but isn’t getting the attention it deserves in the consultation room. We’re hearing loud and clear from Heart Matters readers that they need better support and information on how to deal with issues affecting their sex lives.

“Problems like erectile dysfunction can often be tackled and rectified, but the first hurdle is identifying people who need that help. We’d like patients to feel comfortable and empowered to raise these issues, and for the NHS to proactively offer support in this area to everyone who needs it.”

Further reading: Cardiac events reduced by half with prostate cancer drug

Over 7 million people in the UK suffer from heart and circulatory conditions which can impact peoples’ sex lives (2). Based on the survey results, the BHF estimates that issues with sex could be impacting on the personal lives of more than 1 million people.

Alongside the physical effects of the condition, 14% said they had lost interest in sex because of the emotional impact of their heart condition, and 5% said scarring from an operation made them feel sexually unattractive.

The BHF is urging heart patients and GPs to talk openly about issues around sex, so treatment and support can be provided for the number of those people interview who would have liked to access professional help but couldn’t get any.