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Sexuality in the Aging Couple, Part I: The Aging Woman

Sexuality in the Aging Couple, Part I: The Aging Woman

Teaser: 

Irwin W. Kuzmarov, MD, FRCSC, Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery (Urology), McGill University; Director of Professional and Hospital Services, Santa Cabrini Hospital, Montreal, QC; Past President, Canadian Society for the Study of the Aging Male.
Jerald Bain, BScPhm, MD, MSc, FRCPC, CertEndo, BA, Professor Emeritus, Department of Medicine, Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Mount Sinai Hospital; University of Toronto, Toronto, ON; Past President, Canadian Society for the Study of the Aging Male.

Sexuality and sexual activity do not end when a person reaches a certain age. Sexual desire and activity continue well into later life, and age is not a deterrent to a happy and healthy sex life. However, clinicians should be aware that the normal sexual response of men and women may change with aging. When sexual dysfunction occurs, studies show that men and women tend to view sexual dysfunction differently. Part I of this article addresses sexuality and sexual dysfunction in aging women; Part II (to appear in a forthcoming issue of Geriatrics & Aging) will address the male side of the picture. It is crucial that family doctors be aware of sexuality in the aging couple, and be able to evaluate and manage problems that may arise.
Key Words: aging, sexual activity, sexual dysfunction, women, testosterone therapy.

Cardiovascular Imaging and Noninvasive Diagnosis for Older Adults

Cardiovascular Imaging and Noninvasive Diagnosis for Older Adults

Teaser: 


Sherryn Rambihar, MD, Internal Medicine Resident, Schulich School of Medicine, University of Western Ontario, London, ON.
Beth Abramson, MD, MSc, FRCP(C), FACC, Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Toronto; Director, Cardiac Prevention Centre and Women’s Cardiovascular Health, Department of Cardiology, St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, ON.

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death among men and women at all ages, and older adults are at increased risk. In assessing an older adult at risk for CHD, Bayes’ theorem guides rational clinical decision-making. Physicians should consider a diagnosis of CHD for older adults, who have a high prevalence of disease but may present with atypical symptoms and multiple risk factors. In clinical presentation, older women may be more similar than dissimilar to men. Exercise treadmill testing is the recommended first-line noninvasive strategy in most symptomatic older adults. Risk factor optimization is imperative in all patients.
Key words: imaging, diagnostic, women, geriatrics, clinical practice patterns, delivery of health care.

Age, Gender and Violence: Abuse Against Older Women

Age, Gender and Violence: Abuse Against Older Women

Teaser: 

Jill Hightower, MA, Hightower and Associates, Halfmoon Bay, BC.

Violence against older women involves physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse and denial of human rights, often in combination with one another. Abuse is gender- and age-based. The gender-neutral focus of the elder abuse field does not address the key issues of abuse of women in later life. Community-based women’s advocacy and services in the past have failed to recognize and address the needs of older women. By developing an appreciation of issues of gender- and age-based violence, health professionals have increased opportunities to help older women find support and assistance.
Key words: elder abuse, gender violence, women, aging, older women.

Ovarian Cancer in Older Women: Management and Treatment Options

Ovarian Cancer in Older Women: Management and Treatment Options

Teaser: 

Natalie S. Gould MD, Fellow and Clinical Instructor
D. Scott McMeekin MD, Assistant Professor Section of Gynecologic Oncology,
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
University of Oklahoma Medical Center, Oklahoma City, OK, USA.

Ovarian cancer is a disease of older women, with 48% over the age of 65 at diagnosis.1 It is also the most deadly of gynecologic malignancies, accounting for more deaths than cervical and endometrial carcinoma combined in the US. An estimated 23,400 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in 2001 with 13,900 deaths in the US.2 As our population ages, the number of women affected by ovarian cancer will increase. Cancer limited to an ovary is typically silent and discovered incidentally on exam or at surgical exploration for other reasons. Patients with disease that has spread beyond the ovaries may present with vague gastrointestinal symptoms, bloating, diarrhea, pain and changes in bowel or bladder habits. On physical exam, patients will have a pelvic mass and often ascites. Due to the absence of symptoms until the malignancy has spread beyond the ovaries, and the lack of good screening tests, approximately 70% of patients present with advanced disease and overall survival is poor.3 (Table 1).

Initial management involves cytoreductive surgery aimed at removal of the greatest volume of tumour (Table 2).

Estrogen and Progesterone Therapy in Older Menopausal Women

Estrogen and Progesterone Therapy in Older Menopausal Women

Teaser: 

Jerilynn C. Prior MD, FRCPC, Professor of Endocrinology/Metabolism, Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia and Vancouver Hospital, Vancouver,

Abstract
Estrogen and progesterone (so-called "hormone replacement") therapy was formerly considered essential for menopausal women. The purpose of this paper is to outline the shifts in concepts related to estrogen and progesterone therapy and to describe situations in which it remains a practical, effective therapy for older women.

Estrogen and progesterone are useful for women >65 years old who have osteoporosis diagnosed by bone mineral density or vasomotor symptoms (VMS) disturbing sleep, especially if either are combined with recurrent urinary tract infections or severe dysparunia. If a woman has had a fragility fracture (in a fall from a standing height or less), hormone therapy should be combined with a bisphosphonate such as etidronate for optimal fracture prevention.

Optimal hormone therapy for older women, ideally, is transdermal (patch or gel), rather than oral, to decrease thromboembolic risks. Several lines of evidence suggest that low estrogen doses (such as 25 µg Estraderm®‚ patch, one pump Estragel®) are adequate. Oral micronized progesterone (Prometrium®), given daily, avoids flow, is effective for VMS and increases bone formation. Optimal therapy is daily full or moderate dose progesterone (200 to 300 mg or 5-10 mg medroxyprogesterone).

Are Women Treated Differently After Stroke?

Are Women Treated Differently After Stroke?

Teaser: 

Jocalyn P Clark, MSc, PhD candidate
Department of Health Sciences,
University of Toronto and
The Centre for Research in Women's Health,
Toronto, ON.

 

Stroke is the third leading cause of death for North American women and the leading cause of long-term disability in Canada. According to the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, in 1994/95 stroke-related costs in the province totaled $857 million. The Canadian Stroke Network estimates annual costs for stroke in Canada to be 2.7 billion dollars. Over the next five years the incidence of stroke is expected to increase by over 30%, and those figures could jump to 68% within two decades. Every year among women, stroke claims more than twice as many lives as does breast cancer. Indeed, according to Dr. Beth Abramson, a cardiologist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto and an expert in women and stroke, "The issue of stroke in women is a significant one. This is due to potential bias in treatment of female stroke patients, but also to the greater co-morbidity and health care costs associated with treating women when they suffer from stroke."

Like other cardiovascular conditions, stroke in women is highly age-dependent: women are, on average, several years older than men when they suffer their first stroke and tend to be sicker. Owing to this age dependence, the health burden of stroke will only magnify as the proportion of elderly women in the population increases over time.

Older Women Often Excluded From Clinical Research: Age Bias or Gender Bias?

Older Women Often Excluded From Clinical Research: Age Bias or Gender Bias?

Teaser: 

Jocalyn P. Clark, MSc

A recent article published in a special issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal on Diversity and Women's Health described poor inclusion and representation of women in clinical drug trials for treatment of myocardial infarction (MI). Despite heart disease being a leading cause of disability and death among North American women, especially older women, less than one-quarter of the patients included in the studies were women and the average age of participants was only 62 years. The work of Rochon and colleagues at the University of Toronto extends earlier findings of Gurwitz et al. at the University of Massachusetts who reviewed the literature for a 30 year period up to 1991 and found that women represented only 20% of MI drug trial participants. Most of these trials excluded patients over the age of 75 years. Traditionally, older people have been poorly represented in clinical trials because they are more difficult to study: they tend to have coexisting illnesses, they use other medications that may interact with study drugs, and the elderly are more vulnerable to adverse drug effects. Additional reasons for explaining women's exclusion include fear of harming a fetus, hormonal fluctuations that may complicate responses to medication, and the use of estrogens which may be protective for some diseases.