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Sexual problems in elderly male and female patients with heart failure
  1. Tialda Hoekstra1,
  2. Ivonne Lesman-Leegte1,
  3. Marie Louise Luttik1,
  4. Robbert Sanderman2,
  5. Dirk J van Veldhuisen1,
  6. Tiny Jaarsma1,3
  1. 1Department of Cardiology, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
  2. 2Health Psychology Section, Department of Health Sciences, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
  3. 3Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Linköping, Norrköping, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to Tialda Hoekstra, Department of Cardiology, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, PO Box 30.001, 9700 RB Groningen, The Netherlands; t.hoekstra{at}


Objectives To investigate perceived sexual problems in a large group of younger and older patients with heart failure (HF), with and without a partner, focusing on a broad range of perceived sexual problems, and compare this with a sample of healthy community-dwelling elderly people.

Design Cross-sectional study.

Setting 17 HF clinics and general practices in The Netherlands.

Participants 438 patients with HF and 459 healthy community-dwelling elderly people.

Main Outcome Measures Differences in sexual functioning, related factors and perceived causes of sexual problems between patients with HF and healthy community controls.

Results In total, 59% of HF patients reported sexual problems, mostly problems with erectile function. HF patients with a partner (67%) and younger patients (65%) reported significantly more sexual problems than healthy community controls (58%, p=0.011 and 53%, p=0.011, respectively). Multivariate analyses show that sexual problems in HF patients with a partner were more common in men (OR 2.73, 95% CI 1.572 to 4.753) and in those with a prescription of β-blockers (OR 2.00, 95% CI 1.10 to 3.586). In younger patients, sexual problems were independently associated with male gender (OR 3.21, 95% CI 2.099 to 4.908) and having a partner (OR 2.00, 95% CI 1.283 to 3.110). HF patients mainly attribute their sexual problems to symptoms of HF.

Conclusion Sexual problems are common in patients with HF, particularly in younger patients and those with a partner. As patients attribute their sexual problems mostly to HF symptoms, adequate treatment and education of HF patients is needed.

  • Allied specialities
  • depression
  • healthy controls
  • heart failure
  • partner
  • psychology/psychiatry
  • sexual function
  • sexuality

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  • Funding The COACH study was supported by a programme grant from The Netherlands Heart Foundation (grant 2000Z003). DKvV is a clinical established investigator of The Netherlands Heart Foundation (grant D97.017).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by Medical Ethics Committee of the University Medical Center Groningen, The Netherlands.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.