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Regular cycling can improve sexual function in men with heart failure

ANAHEIM, Calif., Nov. 12 Bicycling has a significantly positive effect in treating sexual dysfunction in men with chronic heart failure, according to a report presented today at the American Heart Associations Scientific Sessions 2001 conference.

We found that exercise can act as a medical therapy to improve both sexual function and overall quality of life in these patients, says Romualdo Belardinelli, M.D., director of the Lancisi Heart Institute in Ancona, Italy.

Many heart failure patients take prescription drugs containing nitrates. Individuals taking these medicines are warned to avoid drugs such as Viagra, a prescription drug used to treat erectile dysfunction, because of a potentially lethal interaction between the two. Patients who exercise instead of taking drugs to address sexual dysfunction avoid the problem of interaction with the nitrate medicine that many heart failure patients take, Belardinelli says. In fact, more than half the patients in our study were taking nitrates, and we saw no side effects whatsoever.

Nitrates, combined with Viagra, can cause very low blood pressure and cardiocirculatory shock.

The study indicates that patients who cycled had increased sexual activity and better overall quality of life, which can be traced to better cardiovascular function. Improvements measured in the brachial artery (the artery that runs from the shoulder to the elbow) indicate that blood vessels in other parts of the body also benefited from the exercise, Belardinelli says. He says they do not know whether other types of exercise would have the same effect as cycling.

The study is the first to examine the relationship between chronic heart failure and sexual dysfunction and to show that exercise training can significantly improve a male patients ability to perform sexually.

Researchers studied 59 men in their mid-to-late 50s, all of whom had stable chronic heart failure caused by ischemic heart disease. This condition
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Contact: Karen Hunter
Karen.Hunter@Heart.org
214-706-1279
American Heart Association
12-Nov-2001


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