Sexual problems in elderly male and female patients with heart failure

Tialda Hoekstra, Ivonne Lesman-Leegte, Marie Louise Luttik, Robbert Sanderman, Dirk J van Veldhuisen, Tiny Jaarsma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1647-1652
JournalHeart & Lung: The Journal of Cardiopulmonary and Acute Care
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • age distribution
  • age factors
  • aged
  • cross-sectional studies
  • female
  • follow-up studies
  • heart failure
  • humans
  • incidence
  • male
  • middle aged
  • netherlands
  • prognosis
  • risk factors
  • sex distribution
  • sexual dysfunction, physiological
  • sexuality
  • surveys and questionnaires
  • comparative study
  • journal article
  • multicenter study
  • research support, non-U.S. Gov't


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