You’re Not Dead Yet!!

4 Jan

Dr. Michael F. Roizen

Co-Author of 4 #1 NY Times Bestsellers including: YOU Staying Young.

The Owner’s Manual For Extending Your Warranty (Free Press)

Our basic premise is that your body is amazing:  You get a do over: it doesn’t take that long, and isn’t that hard if you know what to do.  In these notes, we give you a short course in what to do so it becomes easy for you and then to teach others. We want you to know how much control you have over your quality and length of life.

This month, one of our readers, John (not his real name, he asked that not be printed) wrote in with: “I recently had a heart attack while having sex… [I] want to know when I can start enjoying sex again… and how will I know if I am in trouble short of serious chest pain…that was the first sign last time. My doctor doesn’t seem to want to address those questions with me.”

I’ll start my answer by referencing a favorite PBS show, Monty Python’s Holy Grail (look it up on YOUTube).  In one memorable (for me at least) scene, John Cleese carries out John Young (a dead body), when John Young utters the immortal words, “I’m not dead.”

I want to be very clear about this, John: If you’ve had a heart attack and you’re reading this, you’re not either! That means you can live life passionately.

Yes, check in with your doctor, but if it’s been 10 days since you were released from the hospital and you’re healthy enough to walk at a nice pace for a mile or so, and climb two flights of stairs (a la Jack Nicholson in “As Good As It Gets”), then you’re likely to be cleared for sex.

Your doc is unfortunately typical. Most docs don’t talk about post-heart-attack sex with their patients. Only half of male and a third of female patients are ever told when to restart their love machine. Without that info, many patients are too timid to test the waters. So, I am glad you asked the question. Two long flights easily we say, and then get cleared by the doc.  I’ve been very disappointed that 87% or so of patients after heart attacks (both nationwide and in Cleveland and surroundings) do not avail themselves of either the usual cardiac rehab or any of the three Intensive Cardiac Rehab programs we offer [the ICR of Dean Ornish –paid for by Medicare, The Granddaddy of all programs–the Esselstyn Program (developed in Cleveland)—or the Lifestyle180 program].

You should take one of these programs (many are offered in other parts of the country) if you are at high risk of a heart attack, so you don’t have another one.

By the way, beta blocking drugs like metoprolol were commonly prescribed after heart attacks until two months ago for rhythm control if you had abnormal heart beats after your attack.  But, they caused patients to eat more, have insulin resistance and even have problems achieving an orgasm. New data supports rhythm control with rhythm specific drugs, which means you won’t need those beta blockers and can probably perform better (better orgasms for both males and females). If you are at high risk (50% of men over 65 are), and don’t go for Intensive Cardiac Rehab, and do have a heart attack, you’ll probably feel like a dolt – and you should. You can prevent all that pain, and suffering for you and your loved ones, and not have that heart attack in the first place. (The Essy program is only one day!)

Worse, worrying about sex after a heart attack can be harder on the heart than having sex. Sex reduces stress, and reducing stress and having a great partner with whom you enjoy life helps reduce heart-stopping belly fat. That’s one reason why sex twice a week cuts your risk of heart attack in half.

By the way, why would Medicare pay for it? Probably because it just might save your life, allow you much more fun (I’m not sure Medicare cares about your fun), and reduces your lifetime Medicare costs (Intensive Cardiac Rehab does in randomized controlled trials). So, don’t be an 87 percenter and remember, if you are reading this, you aren’t dead yet.   So John, and all you John wannabees, after that two flights of stairs test and after Intensive Cardiac Rehab has started, snuggle up with your honey and remember: you’re doing this for your health!

Thanks for reading.

Young Dr Mike

You can follow Dr Roizen  (and get updates on the latest and most important medical stories  of the week) on twitter @YoungDrMike. 

Feel free to continue to send questions to You can follow Dr Roizen on twitter @YoungDrMike (and get updates on the latest and most important medical stories of the week).  The YOU docs have a new web site:  and its companion the only site we know of where you can find skin products proven to meet the claims (opened for business on June 1st, 2012), and a new book: YOU: The Owner’s Manual for TeensIt makes a great (even late) graduation gift.  Thanks for reading.

Michael F. Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. His radio show streams live on  Saturdays from 5-7 p.m . E-mail him questions at   He is the co-author of 4 #1 NY Times Best Sellers including : YOU Staying Young and YOU: The Owner’s Manual. He is Chief Medical Consultant to the two year running Emmy award winning Dr Oz show– The Dr Oz show is #2 nationally in daytime TV.  See what all the fun is about, and what he, The Enforcer, is up to. Check local listings or log onto for channel and time. And for more health info, log onto anytime.

NOTE: You should NOT take this as medical advice. This article is of the opinion of its author.  

Before you do anything, please consult with your doctor.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: