Sexual Activity and Chronic Heart Failure

Mandras, Stacy A.; Uber, Patricia A.; Mehra, Mandeep R.
October 2007
Mayo Clinic Proceedings;Oct2007, Vol. 82 Issue 10, p1203
Academic Journal
Little has been published about sexual function in chronic heart failure (CHF) and knowledge among clinicians in this regard is sparse. To review data regarding sexual function and dysfunction in patients with CHF, 2 of the authors (S.A.M. and P.A.U.) independently conducted a literature search using the MEDLINE database. English-language articles and cited bibliographies published between January 1996 and November 2006 were reviewed. Search terms included heart failure or CHF or ventricular dysfunction or heart disease in conjunction with sexual activity, erectile dysfunction, impotence, or sex. Articles were selected for inclusion if they had a primary focus on CHF and sexual function or dysfunction. Critical reviews of the literature, observational studies using self-reported patient surveys, and prospective, blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled trials were included. Articles were not excluded on the basis of patient sample size but were excluded if the article concerned a broad aspect of cardiovascular disease rather than CHF. When properly screened and treated, most patients with CHF can safely engage in sexual activity and be treated for erectile dysfunction with sildenafil, provided that they do not have active ischemia and do not require treatment with nitrates. Clinicians should know the physiological requirements of sexual activity and the impact CHF has on sexual performance. Fear of a cardiac event during intercourse can interfere with patients' ability to perform and enjoy sex, and so it is important that the physician be able to counsel patients with CHF about sexual activity.


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