Lack of medical advice kills heart attack patients' sex lives

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Washington, May 22 (ANI): Researchers have found that if heart patients do not consult their doctors a year after they have had heart attack, their sexual activity reduces considerably.

Researchers at the American Heart Association's 11th Scientific Forum on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke said that these patients do not return to their physicians for medical advice in the year following their heart attack.

This trend was visible in a study of 1,184 male and 576 female acute heart attack patients.

Nearly 50 per cent men and 33 per cent women reported receiving discharge instructions on resuming sexual activity. Even fewer - less than 40 percent of men and less than 20 percent of women spoke to their doctors following the year they had a heart attack in.

Men were 1.3 times and women 1.4 times more likely to report a loss of sexual activity after one year if they didn't receive information on when to resume sexual activity.

"Sexuality is an important part of life throughout life, and most heart attack patients are sexually active" said Stacy Tessler Lindau, M.D., lead author of the study and associate professor of obstetrics/gynecology and medicine-geriatrics at the University of Chicago. "For the most part, physicians just aren't discussing this topic with their patients after a heart attack."

Patients who had been given instructions about resuming sexual activity at hospital discharge were more likely to engage in such activity over the following year.

"As survival after a heart attack continues to improve, it is important to begin studying the outcomes of patients who survive; their symptoms, function and quality of life," said John A. Spertus, M.D., M.P.H., Clinical Director of Outcomes Research at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute/UMKC and Principal Investigator of the TRIUMPH Study. "To date, few studies have examined whether patients who survive a heart attack resume sexual activity."

Although physicians are reluctant to discuss sex with patients who are older, aren't married or belong to a conservative religious group, scientists say that stereotypes don't work in case of sexuality.

Physicians need to bring up the subject, even if it's not part of a routine discharge checklist, because "not raising the question of sexuality leaves the door closed."

Lindau said further study is required to determine what information the patients were given by their physicians, what patients need to know, and how to tailor information for patients so that they will feel free to ask questions and to seek help.

"Often physicians are focused on saving lives, and sexual health may not be valued as much as medications and other treatments to prevent further progression of their coronary disease," she said. Doctors need to be proactive and help patients recover their whole lives after heart attack. Physicians need to assess a patient's sexual history to ensure all aspects of a patient's physical and emotional well-being are addressed. This is an essential part of healthcare." (ANI)

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