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The issue of sexual problems in heart patients is already ignored, and media sensationalism about sildenafil (Viagra) may discourage patients from pursuing viable treatments, said Lars Ryden, MD, president of the European Society of Cardiology, at the society’s annual meeting in Barcelona. “What is being done in the press is scaring people from using what could do a lot for them,” he said.
“Impotence is a disease and should be treated.” Physicians, he said, frequently do not respond to their patients’ requests for help with the problem of impotence because they are uneasy about talking to patients about their sex lives or because they do not see an ability to perform or to enjoy sex as a real health issue to be addressed by cardiologists.
Although the risk of developing impotence increases with age to ≈15% in men aged 70, disease and medications contribute more than age, as do psychological factors, alcohol, and tobacco use. Cardiologists should not ignore the problem, because indications are that as many as 39% of their male patients between age 40 and 70 suffer severe erectile dysfunction, said Dr Ryden. (Heldman HA, et al. J Urol. 1994;151:54–61)
Yet the issue of sexual activity by heart patients, particularly those who have had myocardial infarctions or strokes, has always been a matter in contention. In many cases, the male patient’s partner becomes …