Erectile dysfunction linked to increased risk of heart disease

Erectile Dysfunction Causes cardiovascular risk among middle-aged men

Writing in the journal Circulation, senior investigator Michael Blaha and his fellow cardiologist co-authors have shared new evidence suggesting that developing erectile dysfunction (ED) - the inability to maintain or achieve an erection for sexual activity - is predictive of possibly life-threatening cardiovascular disease. One reason is because scientists took into account other factors like smoking, blood pressure and cholesterol and still found a major connection.

For this study, the investigators tracked the heart health of about 1,900 men, ages 60 to 78, with and without vascular-related impotence.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) was an independent predictor of cardiovascular disease in a large, multiethnic, community-based cohort of men, even after controlling for other factors that have always been considered to complicate the connection between erectile problems and heart disease, new research shows. That may be the least of your worries, according to new research.

"Our results reveal that erectile dysfunction is, in itself, a powerful predictor of cardiovascular risk", commented Dr. Blaha. Study participants who reported ED were twice as likely to experience heart attacks, cardiac arrests, sudden cardiac death, and strokes of both fatal and non-fatal nature.

Human cardiovascular system
Human cardiovascular system pixabay

Around 20% of men over age 20 experience erectile dysfunction in the US, and the rates are higher among older men.

About 6.3 percent of the men who suffered from erectile dysfunction were hit by cardiovascular events during the study period, or more than twice the percentage of men without ED (2.6 percent) who suffered from some form of heart disease in those four years. When the investigators adjusted their analysis to eliminate the potential influence of other risk factors, that risk was somewhat lessened but still markedly higher: Men with ED were almost twice as likely to suffer cardiovascular events than men without ED.

Men seeking treatment and evaluation for ED should be a signal to conduct a comprehensive cardiovascular evaluation, said Blaha. "Our results suggest that these two factors may partially mediate the relationship between prior CVD and subsequent ED, but do not attenuate the prospective association of ED and incident CVD".

For men, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking or metabolic syndrome are all warning factors of heart disease, which affects a quarter of men under the age of 40 in the United States. Researchers found that men were probably more likely to recognize sexual dysfunction than signs of cardiovascular disease. "We should be asking about erectile function as a general health concern, because it's a risk factor and a treatable condition", says Blaha.

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