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Shock Fear May Curb Sex for People With Heart Devices
Date:11/14/2011

y shock-related anxiety.

Many people with congenital heart disease may be depressed, which could affect their sexual function, but depression scores were in the normal range for all of the study participants -- those with and without ICDs, the study showed.

Men and women who reported high levels of shock-related anxiety had lower sexual function scores compared with their counterparts who were not anxious about their device firing. It didn't matter if these individuals were single or in committed relationships. Some may have experienced a shock in the past, while others might just fear experiencing one in the future, Cook said.

Communication between patients and their doctors is critical to allay any fears, Cook said. Anyone shocked in the past who dreads another jolt should try to figure out why the device fired in the first place, Cook said.

Solutions exist, based on whether the ICD fired appropriately or inappropriately. Doctors can tweak your medication regimen to help control the underlying heart problem or reprogram the device, he said.

In the future, it may help to have doctors screen people for shock-related anxiety before implanting the device, he said.

This is a real issue, said Dr. Joshua M. Hare, the Louis Lemberg Professor of Medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "It is an interesting dilemma because the same device that can save your life also has side effects," he said.

"It's the right treatment, but there is the risk that it could happen at the wrong time," he said. "If you don't have the device you are at risk for a potentially fatal event, but having the device can be anxiety-provoking and create psychosocial issues."

"You have to pick your poison," he said.

Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

More information

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