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J Hypertens. 2008 Nov;26(11):2074-84. doi: 10.1097/HJH.0b013e32830dd0c6.

Sexual dysfunction: the 'prima ballerina' of hypertension-related quality-of-life complications.

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  • 1Department of Cardiology, Asklepeion Hospital, Athens, Greece.


Sexual dysfunction is currently considered a serious quality-of-life-related health problem, exerting a major impact on patients' and their sexual partners' life. Available data indicate that essential hypertension is a risk factor for sexual dysfunction, as male and female sexual dysfunction is more prevalent in hypertensive patients than normotensive individuals. Several mechanisms have been implicated in the pathogenesis of sexual dysfunction in hypertensive patients, and major determinants include severity and duration of hypertension, age, and antihypertensive therapy. Female sexual dysfunction, although more frequent than its male counterpart, remains largely under-recognized. Older antihypertensive drugs (diuretics, beta-blockers, centrally acting) exert negative results, whereas newer drugs have either neutral (calcium antagonists, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors) or beneficial effects (angiotensin receptor blockers). Erectile dysfunction is related to ischemic heart disease and might be an 'early therapeutic window' of asymptomatic coronary artery disease. It seems of utmost importance for every physician treating hypertensive patients to become familiar with sexual dysfunction (through better education and specific seminars) for the proper management of these patients.

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