[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The clinical success of the implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) in reducing mortality suggests that more women will be receiving ICDs in the future. The impact of ICD therapy in women is unique in western societies; the ICDs scar and lump in the pectoral area can lead to body image concerns due to the emphasis on women's physical attractiveness. Social support and roles are challenged because women's reaction to stress has been characterized by a "tend and befriend" response, involving cultivating and utilizing social networks, rather than the "fight or flight" response more typical of men. In addition, a woman's identity as a caretaker and caregiver can be threatened by the actual and perceived activity limitations imposed by the ICD or the underlying heart condition. Finally, reproductive and sexual health are important issues, as 25 to 50% of patients with ICDs report concerns in this area, but also report discomfort in discussing these concerns with their health care providers. The purpose of the present paper is to review the relevant literature and to identify the unique impact of the psychosocial issues of body image, social support and roles, and sexual development and reproductive functioning for women with ICDs across the lifespan. In the absence of complete empirical research data on the impact of these concerns, hypotheses to test in future research are offered.
Clinical Cardiology 11/2004; 27(10):543-6. · 1.83 Impact Factor