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Severe erectile dysfunction predicts poor heart disease outcome

Patients with heart disease who have severe erectile dysfunction should receive more ‘aggressive’ cardiac rehab care because they have such a poor prognosis relative to other patients with more normal sexual function, researchers reported at the European Society of Cardiology annual scientific meeting this week.

A study looking at the outcomes of 373 patients undergoing cardiac rehabilitation over 30 months found that the 62 patients with severe erectile dysfunction had a three fold higher risk of adverse cardiac events and death than the rest of the patients, even after accounting for their greater risk from other factors.

The researchers concluded: ‘Presence and severity of erectile dysfunction is a strong determinant of coronary heart disease prognosis, independently of age, functional capacity and other cardiovascular risk factors.

‘Routine assessment of sexual function is therefore warranted in cardiac rehabilitation programmes and presence of severe erectile dysfunction may determine a more aggressive and holistic approach to cardiac rehabilitation in coronary heart disease.’

In another presentation, researchers found patients with chronic heart failure need to undertake high-intensity aerobic exercise to help regain sexual function.

Among 20 patients with stable heart failure, aged on average 53 years, a 12-week high-intensity interval training programme led to increased erectile function, desire and sexual satisfaction as well as improved quality of life, whereas a moderate intensity continuous training programme only improved patients’ quality of life.

The researchers concluded: ‘In patients with chronic heart failure, only high intensity aerobic training improved sexual function, while quality of life improved with both intensities of exercise.’

European Society of Cardiology Congress 2014; Abstracts: P400, P422

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