Purpose: To determine whether primary care physicians take into consideration age, gender and diabetes mellitus as risk factors for sexual dysfunction (SD) when prescribing antihypertensives.
Methods: A prescribing survey on hyperternsive patients with or without diabetes mellitus in primary care setting of Bahrain was carried out.
Results: In 5301 hypertensive patients, we found that a beta-blocker (atenolol) was the most commonly prescribed drug and was significantly more often prescribed for young male hypertensives (< 45 years). A relatively high dose of atenolol (100 mg/d) was extensively used as both mono- and combination-therapies. With the exception of middle-aged hypertensives (45-64 years) and elderly diabetic-hypertensives (> or = 65 years), no significant age- and gender-related differences were observed regarding the prescription of thiazide diuretics. A significant trend of prescribing methyldopa in females as monotherapy was evident. Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, the second most commonly prescribed drugs, were significantly more often prescribed for young, middle-aged hypertensive males and for middle-aged diabetic-hypertensive males. beta-blocker/diuretic combination was prescribed least for the young and elderly hypertensive males. However, prescription of an ACE inhibitor with either a diuretic or a calcium channel blocker (CCBs) was less frequent and lacked gender-related differences.
Conclusions: We infer that antihypertensive-induced SD received little attention as was evident from: (a) over-prescription of relatively high dose of beta-blockers to young hypertensive males; (b) lack of gender- and age-related difference regarding the type and dose of diuretics prescribed; (c) underutilization of effective and complementary combinations expected to cause least impact on sexual function, such as ACE inhibitors with either a diuretic or with a CCB; and (d) a relative lack of discrimination while selecting antihypertensive drugs, particularly as monotherapy between hypertensive versus diabetic-hypertensive patients. With the exception of ACE inhibitors alone and combination of diuretic/beta-blocker, the choice of antihypertensives did not conform to international guidelines. In view of drug-induced SD adversely influencing the quality of life and thereby drug-compliance, interventions aimed at improving physicians' awareness should be attempted.