Is Erectile Dysfunction a Sign of Heart Disease?
- Posted on: Feb 21 2014
Erectile Dysfunction (commonly known as “ED”) refers to a man’s inability to hold an erection sufficient enough for sexual intercourse. Though many men may not realize it, ED can be an early warning sign of major heart problems.
Atherosclerosis is a process where plaque builds in the arteries, potentially leaving them clogged. Smaller arteries of the body, such as in the penis, are usually the first to become clogged, with plaque reducing the flow of blood within the penis, and making an erection difficult to achieve. ED should alert patients to look for greater signs of hardening in larger arteries, such as the heart and other organs, so it can be treated properly. As cardiologists, we realize that any patient who comes in with ED should be considered a cardiovascular patient until proven otherwise.
Heart disease and erectile dysfunction also share many of the same risk factors. Let’s take a closer look at some of these risk factors.
- Diabetes. Diabetes restricts effective blood flow throughout the body, placing men with diabetes are at a greater risk of erectile dysfunction, and heart disease.
- Smoking cigarettes. Males who smoke cigarettes raise their risks of erectile dysfunction, as well as developing hardened arteries.
- High blood pressure. High blood pressure damages the inner lining of your arteries, and from there, accelerate the process of atherosclerosis. Additionally, if you have a close relative (such as a sibling) who has a history of high blood pressure or heart issues, you risk for future problems may also increase.
- Your weight. Being overweight, or obese, can increase your risks for both heart disease and erectile dysfunction.
- Age. The younger you are, the more at risk you are for these issues. Men younger than 50 are most at risk for erectile dysfunction and heart disease. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic followed men ages 40-49 with ED and found they were twice as likely to develop heart disease as those with no sexual health problems. Other studies have showed that two out of three men being treated for heart disease suffered from ED, often for years, before they were diagnosed with cardiovascular disease.
When you have been diagnosed with erectile dysfunction, or the early stages of heart disease, you doctor will likely suggest making certain lifestyle changes, including implementing a strict diet and exercise plan. Patients who have more serious symptoms, or a more advanced case of heart disease, you may need treatment beyond just changing your current lifestyle. For most men, this means speaking with your doctor about medications that can treat both conditions.
Cardiologists in Los Angeles
If you want to learn more about treatments for heart disease or erectile dysfunction, or about heart medications in general, contact our office at (310) 659-0714 to schedule an appointment. You can also fill out our online contact form or visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. We look forward to serving you.
©2014 COR Medical Group, Inc. Los Angeles, California. All Rights Reserved.
Posted in: Heart Health Blog