October 27, 2011
Our next bit of nerdity delves into later life…
The population is aging and medical science is improving. However, with all the little blue pills and other assistance – are we actually increasing our sex life expectancy right alongside our life expectancy? Perhaps not…
The pacemaker, a handy little invention, came about in 1952 and was worn on a belt with electrodes connected to the heart via wires. Not very sexy. These days a device about the size of a disposable cigarette lighter (or slightly larger than a bullet in sex toy terminology) is implanted under the skin. These can be programmed to support a person’s natural needs for varying heart rates.
Naturally our heart rate increases with certain stimuli – such as the adrenalin induced “fight or flight” response. That’s why the Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator or ICD can be programmed to increase or decrease a patient’s heart rate as needed. These devices can be implanted under the skin during a relatively minor operation to:
1) diagnose whether or not a disturbance of heart rhythm is the cause of symptoms;
2) prevent slowing of the heart rhythm to dangerously low levels; and/or
3) treat dangerously fast rhythms.
Twenty to thirty years ago, when even doctors were less inclined to discuss sexual relations there was a significant design flaw in these devices…
Sorry. Not tonight, dear.
The need for a slowing of the heart rate to support a patient’s sleep pattern was recognised. What do all folks do when they sleep? They lie down.
Patient lies down + heart rate slowed by ICD = patient falling asleep
But what about the friskier members of the patient population?!
Patient lies down + heart rate slowed by ICD = patient passes out due to lack of oxygen to the brain during strenuous activity
Not an ideal situation. I wonder how many of our grandparents’ generation simply changed position or gave up altogether rather than face the embarrassing conversation at the doctor’s office?
While the earlier “mercury switch” style design is no longer in use, the ICD basic programming still doesn’t come as defaulted for strenuous sex. So, even these days, I would propose there are some who might decide to find out the cause for there inability to “stay in the game”‘ via an internet search and “just do it doggy style” rather than discuss the need for a reprogram with their physician. It’s a shame really, in these days of Viagra and plastic surgery when we will all be forever young and able, you’d think this would be a pretty easy win!
And a final word from Boston Scientific, LifeBeat Spring 2003 issue…
“Most patients can resume intimate activity. People who have an ICD may wonder if the device could deliver a shock during sexual activities. This is rare, but possible. The shock will not hurt your partner. Your doctor or nurse can also provide helpful information on the subject of intimacy.”