An Erectile Dysfunction–Heart Disease Link
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a relatively common condition in men, with 15 million affected worldwide and potentially many more who haven’t been diagnosed. Men who have this disorder have trouble becoming erect or maintaining an erection long enough to have sexual intercourse. And while it is unpleasant and generally upsetting to the men who experience ED, it is not a life-or-death kind of diagnosis, right? Maybe not so right! A new study is offering evidence that it appears to be related to a much more dangerous problem: heart disease.
The study, which was conducted at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease in Baltimore, Maryland, found that erectile dysfunction may be an independent risk factor for developing heart disease.1 These results were based on an investigation that included 1,757 men between the ages of 60 and 78. The subjects were followed for a period of nearly 4 years to keep track of all cardiovascular disease-related incidents.
During this time period, those men suffering from ED were found to have twice the rate of heart attacks or death due to a heart-related issue than their peers who did not have ED. It is not surprising to note a connection between these two conditions, as earlier research has shown that they have a number of risk factors in common, such as obesity, hypertension, atherosclerosis, high cholesterol levels, and a sedentary lifestyle.
However, this study is the first to take this information a step further and actually clarify erectile dysfunction as its own separate risk factor for heart disease. To make this determination, the researchers thoroughly evaluated all the data and controlled for many potentially influential factors, including weight, blood pressure readings, and whether the subject was a smoker. After making the necessary adjustments, the data showed that the presence of ED could independently predict an increased risk of heart trouble.
Therefore, if you are a man who experiences erectile dysfunction, you should probably be concerned enough to deal with it. But before you begin medical treatments with a doctor, know what your options are. One of the first suggestions your physician may make is pharmaceutical medications such as Viagra and Cialis. These have been associated with numerous side effects, including headaches, vision changes, and dizziness. And a 2014 study at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island found that men using Viagra had a significantly higher risk of developing melanoma.2 But more importantly, they don’t address the problem—merely the symptom.
Other medical options include injections of drugs into your penis, which can result in scarring and dangerously prolonged erections and suppositories of drugs placed within the penis, which are ineffective in many cases. If the medications don’t work, your doctor might suggest a vacuum device to boost blow flow to the penis, but this can cause bruising, loss of feeling, skin irritation, and pain. Surgery is typically a treatment of last resort in which implants are inserted or blood vessel blockages are cleared, but both carry risks including infection. And as with the pharmaceutical option, they don’t address the cause—just the symptom.
A better course of action would be to address the underlying causes and risk factors associated with ED. If your erectile dysfunction is more psychologically based, find a therapist who specializes in these kinds of problems and work through your issues by talking them out. Start taking a natural hormone balancing formula, which can improve your testosterone levels and resolve the erection difficulties. And if you have risk factors for ED—which are mostly the same as for heart disease—you should start making changes that could eliminate the erectile dysfunction while also helping prevent a heart attack and other health problems.
Make an effort to improve your diet and shed excess pounds. Switch out high-calorie, high sodium, and sugary foods for more nutritious selections. To combat a sedentary lifestyle, make exercise a part of your everyday life. As the weight comes off, other risk factors such as high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels will start dropping into safer zones. The ED may disappear, and your heart disease risk will be no greater than any other healthy man your age.
- 1. Uddin, S.M. Iftekhar; et al. "Erectile Dysfunction as an Independent Predictor of Future Cardiovascular Events: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis." Circulation. 11 June 2018. Accessed 20 June 2018. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2018/06/04/CIRCULATIONAHA.118.033990.
- 2. Li, Wen-Qing; et al. "Sildenafil Use and Increased Risk of Incident Melanoma in US Men." JAMA Internal Medicine. June 2014. Accessed 21 June 2018. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1857095?resultClick=1.