Women’s Sexual Dysfunction after Heart Attack Rarely Addressed

New research finds that problems with sexual function occur at the same rate as a loss of general function after a heart attack, for both men and women.

The problems occur at a higher rate than depression yet health care providers rarely address these issues, especially among women.

University of Chicago researchers determined impaired sexual function or new problems are common after heart attacks. The researchers hope their findings will help clinicians provide better care for their patients.

“Too often physicians and researchers are too embarrassed to ask questions about sexual health, and yet these issues are important to many people,” said Harlan Krumholz, M.D., professor of medicine at Yale and director of the Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation.

“We need to concern ourselves with gaining knowledge about how to help our patients achieve a high quality of life in all aspects of their lives.”

The data show that if a physician talks to the patient about sexual health and function after a heart attack the patient is more likely to resume sex.

However, women were less likely to be counseled by physicians on what to expect and more likely to have problems with sexual function as they recover. More than half of women (59 percent) and less than half (46 percent) of men reported sexual function problems in the year after a heart attack.

“The next step is to design the optimal intervention to improve sexual function outcomes after heart attack for men and women,” said Stacy Tessler Lindau, M.D., associate professor of obstetrics/gynecology and medicine-geriatrics at the University of Chicago, who authored the research.

“The rehabilitation phase begins with the cardiologist counseling the patient about her or his functional capabilities and what she or he can expect, including physical, psychological, and sexual function.”

Source: University of Chicago/EurekAlert