More than one million people in the UK could have stopped having sex lives altogether as a result of a heart condition, a leading charity has said.
Heart patients and their GPs should talk openly about sex issues, the British Heart Foundation said, after its survey found nearly a fifth of people with heart conditions, or 19%, found sex impossible and nearly a third, or 32%, have had sex less often as a result of their condition.
One in five respondents said they were worried about having a heart attack or cardiac arrest during sex.
The survey of 1,511 patients for the BHF magazine Heart Matters found 14% had lost interest in sex because of the emotional impact of their condition. Nearly half the men surveyed, 46%, said medication for their condition had caused erectile dysfunction.
The charity said more than seven million people in the UK suffer from heart and circulatory conditions including stroke and the heart rhythm disorder atrial fibrillation.
Based on the survey results, it estimated that more than one million people could have stopped having sex because of their heart condition.
In spite of the widespread problem, the charity said 30% had not discussed the issue with anyone including their doctor and 8% said they would have liked to get professional help but could not.
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."