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Sex

Sex Problems After a Heart Attack Are More Common for Women Than for Men

New research from the University of Chicago found that more than half of women (59%) and less than half (46%) of men reported sexual function problems in the year after a heart attack. The investigators’ goal was to help clinicians develop better care guidelines for patients. The study, published in August 2016 JAMA Cardiology, shows impaired sexual function or new problems are common after heart attacks. They occur at the same rate as a loss of general physical function and at a higher rate than the incidence of depression after heart attack, but rarely do health care providers address these issues – particularly with women.

A release from the university quotes Harlan Krumholz, MD, professor of medicine at Yale and director of the Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation, one of the authors in charge of the study, as saying, “Too often physicians and researchers are too embarrassed to ask questions about sexual health, and yet these issues are important to many people. 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 release explains that 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.

“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, MD, 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.”

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