The sex lives of patients who have implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) fitted in the chest takes a turn for worse due to ill-timed shocks, according to a leading cardiologist who presented the findings at the American Heart Association meeting in Orlando.
Dr Steven Cook, director of the center for adult congenital heart disease at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, said that the defibrillator sees the increase heart rate during sex, or vigorous exercise, as aberrant heart rate and tries to correct it by providing a powerful jolt of electric impulse.
Dr Cook said that patients who experience the first shock become afraid of similar shocks as the feeling is similar to "getting kicked in the chest by a horse". Dr Cook and his team of researchers observed the effect of defibrillators on the sex lives of 151 men and women with heart disease of which 41 had been fitted with ICDs.
The researchers found that while the sexual function among women was the same among both groups, men with ICDs reported mild erectile dysfunction. However majority of the patients, both men and women, who were fitted with ICDs said that their major concern was the shocks and those who expressed the most concern had the lowest scores on the sexual-function measures.
Stating that the patients may also require psychological help, Dr Cook said, "I can help them understand what's going on from a cardiologist's point of view, but maybe a psychologist can help them deal with the anxiety and get them back to having sex."