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Erectile dysfunction in heart disease patients


Atherosclerosis is a general health problem that not only affects the coronary arteries but also (in men) the penile arteries, thus contributing to organic causes of erectile dysfunction (ED) in heart disease patients. These organic causes are intertwined with psychological and pharmacological causes because medication prescribed for heart disease patients may also cause ED. The incidence of ED after myocardial infarction ranges from 38 to 78%. As sexual intercourse involves physical exertion, the medical history, ventricular function determined through echocardiography, and stress testing are used to classify patients into various groups where coital activity represents a greater or lesser cardiovascular risk. The energy requirements for intercourse are not high, ranging from 3.7 metabolic equivalents (METs) of energy expenditure at resting state during the preorgasmic phase to 5 METs during orgasm. The Bruce protocol for exercise stress testing is a six-stage protocol with changes in the slope and speed of the treadmill. As a general rule, a patient who completes the first two stages of the Bruce protocol has a functional capacity greater than 7 METs, which is considered sufficient for sexual intercourse. The physician or cardiologist concerned should institute first-line treatment with oral drugs according to the indications listed below. If sexual activity is not contraindicated, the treatment of choice for ED in heart disease patients is oral therapy with sildenafil, except in those cases in which its use is contraindicated. Specific recommendations are discussed.

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Correspondence to I Sainz.

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Sainz, I., Amaya, J. & Garcia, M. Erectile dysfunction in heart disease patients. Int J Impot Res 16 (Suppl 2), S13–S17 (2004).

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