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The Heart and Sex. The Impact of Cardiovascular Disease on Sexual Function

The Heart and Sex. The Impact of Cardiovascular Disease on Sexual Function

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are a group of disorders
of the heart and blood vessels. They include
among others: coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular
disease and peripheral arterial disease. CVDs are the
number 1 cause of death globally. The most important
risk factors of heart disease and stroke are unhealthy
diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use and harmful use of
alcohol. The effects of these behavioral risk factors may
show up in individuals as raised blood pressure, raised
blood glucose, raised blood lipids, and overweight and
obesity. As the sexual function relies heavily on intact
blood supply and nerve signaling to the genitals, CVD
and sexual dysfunctions (SD) share the same risk factors.
Especially for men it has been shown that life
style risk factors are major risk factors for erectile dysfunction
(ED). In women the picture is more unclear
regarding the association with CVD and SD. However,
in both sexes psychological distress, anxiety and
depression, which are commonly seen in patients with
CVD, also increase the risk of developing SD and
experience a dissatisfying sexual life.
Therefore, it is essential to prevent SD by preventing
CVD and to give sexual counselling to patients in
cardio-vascular rehabilitation. Despite this knowledge
many health care providers fail to include sexual counselling
in the rehabilitation and treatment for both
men and women with CVD. This may lead to anxiety
about having sex for the patients and lack of treatment
of sexual problems as well as reduced sexual health for
the patients and their partners.
The lecture will focus on prevalence of and risk factors
for sexual problems related to CVD and how
health care providers can help patients with sexual
problems and CVD.
Keywords: Cardiovascular disease, Sexual function,
Sexual dysfunction
Conflict of Interest and Disclosure Statement:
Consultant Eli Lilly, Advisory board Palatin, Futura