Nav: Home

Cardiac rehabilitation linked to improved sexual functioning and frequency

December 06, 2018

Philadelphia, December 6, 2018 - A new systematic review of the literature comparing the sexual health of patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD) who attended cardiac rehabilitation (CR) with patients who did not, found that rehab attendance is associated with improved sexual function and sexual frequency. Published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, the study validates the benefit of exercise training and points to the need for more high quality research to better understand the role of counseling and other therapies in easing the sexual repercussions of a cardiac event. The investigators also conclude that more evidence is needed to clarify whether CR has an impact on sexual satisfaction, sexual activity resumption, and other aspects of sexual health.

"As patients live longer with chronic CVD, it is important to focus not just on clinical effectiveness of interventions, but also to understand how interventions affect patients' quality of life. We know that sexual activity is important to patients as it allows them to feel well and vital and close and connected with their partner. Evidence shows that patients with CVD suffer from decreased sexual activity due to physical limitations, medication side effects, and psychological barriers. Although CR has been shown to improve mortality and morbidity, this is the first review to explore its effects on sexual health outcomes," said lead investigator Karen L. Tang, MD, MSc, FRCPC, Assistant Professor, Departments of Medicine and Community Health Sciences, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada.

This comprehensive review of the published literature identified 341 potentially relevant published studies, of which 14 met criteria to be included in this investigation. A variety of sexual health outcomes were assessed, including sexual resumption after a cardiac event, sexual function (primarily relating to erectile dysfunction), sexual frequency, and sexual satisfaction. The results indicate that there may be potential benefits from CR on sexual outcomes. Of six studies pertaining specifically to sexual function, three showed improvement after CR, two showed mixed results, and one showed worsened sexual function. Interestingly, the effects on sexual health do not appear to depend on sex-specific counseling.

According to the investigators, CR may provide the perfect opportunity to address the sexual health of patients with CVD. Similar to assessing outcome measures, such as physical limitations and exercise capacity, it is important for physicians to ask about a patient's sexual health before and after CR attendance. In addition, the majority of CR programs in this review included lifestyle and risk factor reduction counselling components. Given their holistic nature, attendance in CR programs would also be a good time to address physical and psychological barriers to sexual activity.

The investigators also explore the question of whether exercise training in CR influences sexual health outcomes by increasing cardiovascular and muscle functioning. They identify this as a topic for further study.

"Understanding the importance of sexual health and the potential impacts that CR has on sexual outcomes are imperative in improving patient quality of life after a cardiovascular event. We need to more effectively examine how CR might be used and innovated to improve quality of life outcomes like sexual health," commented Dr. Tang.

Noting that the National Institutes of Health's Obesity-Related Health Interventions Trial (ORBIT) framework responds to well-defined needs, the investigators suggest conducting an assessment of physical and psychological barriers to sexual activity in CVD patients before and after an intervention. This view is echoed in an accompanying editorial by Claudio Gil Soares de Araújo, MD, PhD, Exercise Medicine Clinic - CLINIMEX, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. "Whether sexual counseling should become a formal part of a comprehensive CR program, and if so, how should it be implemented, are still under debate. However, health professionals, and in particular, cardiologists, should be aware of the need to discuss and offer prompt and adequate advice regarding sexual life for patients with heart disease. This could be carried out by the CR team or, if felt appropriate, by referral to a professional specialist in sexuality."
-end-


Elsevier

Related Cardiovascular Disease Articles:

Is educational attainment associated with lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease?
Men and women with the lowest education level had higher lifetime risks of cardiovascular disease than those with the highest education level, according to a new study published by JAMA Internal Medicine.
Food policies could lower US cardiovascular disease rates
New research conducted by the University of Liverpool and partners shows that food policies, such as fruit and vegetable subsidies, taxes on sugar sweetened drinks, and mass media campaigns to change dietary habits, could avert hundreds of thousands of deaths from cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the United States.
Cardiovascular disease causes one-third of deaths worldwide
Cardiovascular diseases (CVD), including heart diseases and stroke, account for one-third of deaths throughout the world, according to a new scientific study that examined every country over the past 25 years.
Kidney disease is a major cause of cardiovascular deaths
In 2013, reduced kidney function was associated with 4 percent of deaths worldwide, or 2.2 million deaths.
Cardiovascular disease costs will exceed $1 trillion by 2035
A new study projects that by 2035, cardiovascular disease, the most costly and prevalent killer, if left unchecked, will place a crushing economic and health burden on the nation's financial and health care systems.
Prescribing drugs for cardiovascular disease prevention in the UK
Drugs such as statins that have the potential to prevent strokes and other types of cardiovascular disease have not been prescribed to a large proportion of people at risk in the UK, according to a research article by Grace Turner of the University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK and colleagues published in PLOS Medicine.
Fatty liver disease contributes to cardiovascular disease and vice versa
For the first time, researchers have shown that a bi-directional relationship exists between fatty liver disease and cardiovascular disease.
More dietary calcium may lower risk of cardiovascular disease
In older people, higher dietary calcium intake may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, but not of stroke and fracture, new research from South Korea suggests.
Renal hemodynamics and cardiovascular function in health and disease
The SRC will focus on unpublished work that is state-of-the-art in study of cardiovascular and renal disease and hypertension.
Cardiovascular disease in adult survivors of childhood cancer
For adult survivors of childhood cancer, cardiovascular disease presents at an earlier age, is associated with substantial morbidity, and is often asymptomatic.

Related Cardiovascular Disease Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Don't Fear Math
Why do many of us hate, even fear math? Why are we convinced we're bad at it? This hour, TED speakers explore the myths we tell ourselves and how changing our approach can unlock the beauty of math. Guests include budgeting specialist Phylecia Jones, mathematician and educator Dan Finkel, math teacher Eddie Woo, educator Masha Gershman, and radio personality and eternal math nerd Adam Spencer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#518 With Genetic Knowledge Comes the Need for Counselling
This week we delve into genetic testing - for yourself and your future children. We speak with Jane Tiller, lawyer and genetic counsellor, about genetic tests that are available to the public, and what to do with the results of these tests. And we talk with Noam Shomron, associate professor at the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, about technological advancements his lab has made in the genetic testing of fetuses.