Heart attack survivors are being encouraged to talk to their doctor about sex, with many health professionals failing to address the health issue.
A Heart Foundation survey, released on Wednesday, has found fewer than one in four health professionals regularly conduct conversations about sexual activity and intimacy with their heart attack patients.
This is despite most (80 per cent) believing it is an important issue to be discussed.
When they do bring up the subject of sex, the patient is more likely to be a woman than a man.
The 2017 survey of 251 health professionals also found just over half reported being comfortable discussing sexual activity and intimacy with people from all cultures and backgrounds.
Chief Medical Advisor for the National Heart Foundation, Professor Garry Jennings, says it is disappointing to think "we haven't moved on" from any embarrassment the topic may cause.
He says it's also concerning people may be instead seeking information on the issue of sex after a heart attack from social media.
"That may be alright but it may not be," Professor Jennings said.
The survey was conducted after a patient study and review of the research suggested the resumption of sexual activity after a heart attack remains a major concern among patients.
"Heart attack survivors are worried about having another heart attack, performance, and over-exertion," said Heart Foundation Queensland Health Director Rachelle Foreman.
"Depression, fatigue, a lack of cardiac fitness, pain or discomfort, and sexual dysfunction, including low libido, can also play a role," said Ms Foreman.
And it's not just the sufferer themselves who worry, it's also their partners, added Prof Jennings
Because of this, patients are urged to raise the issue with their doctors or seek support from counsellors.
"There is a natural shyness in many patients to raise it themselves, but if you can get over the hurdle of asking, chances are you will find the answers less complicated and scary than you imagined," said Professor Jennings.
For evidence-based information people can visit www.heartfoundation.org.au) or call the Heart Foundation Helpline on 131112.
Australian Associated Press