THE HEART BEAT Researchers have established a link between heart disease and decreased sexual function in men. New data suggests a similar phenomenon in women.

The study, of nearly 2,800 older women with heart disease, found that two-thirds of those who remained sexually active said they suffered some form of sexual dysfunction such as discomfort during sex.

The findings, say the authors, suggest doctors need to be aware that many older women remain sexually active after a diagnosis of heart disease -- and may have bothersome symptoms.

The study appears in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

REWARD AND RISK Women with anorexia have increased chemical activity in a part of the brain that controls reward and reinforcement -- something that may explain why they are driven to lose weight but don't get any pleasure from it, a study suggests.

Researchers used brain-imaging technology on 10 women who had recovered from anorexia and 12 healthy women. In the anorexic women, they found overactivity by dopamine receptors in a part of the brain known as the basal ganglia. Dopamine is a brain chemical associated with regulating pleasure.

Guido Frank of the University of California, San Diego, and a study leader, said he hopes the research can lead to development of drugs to treat anorexia -- and new methods to identify those at high risk.

"It's very, very hard to treat. They recognize it's wrong, but they still don't eat," Frank said. The research was reported this month online in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

-- From News Services