DEC 18, 2017 9:21 AM PST

Erectile Dysfunction is a Warning Sign for Heart Disease

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

Screening men with erectile dysfunction (ED) for traces of heart disease may help medical professionals reach low and intermediate risk groups that may not be concerned about their heart health. In a new study published in Vascular Medicine, a team of scientists reviewed and analyzed 28 different studies, assessing the connection between ED and heart disease.

ED is characterized as “male sexual dysfunction,” and men affected have difficulty initiating or maintaining an erection. ED becomes more common with age. It is also known to be a potential sign of blood vessel blockages or nerve damage from diabetes. While drugs to treat ED are available, doctors also recommend getting more exercise, losing weight, or not smoking.

The new study aimed to confirm ED’s role as a risk factor for heart disease, like smoking, having high blood pressure, being overweight or obese, being physically inactive, or having a poor diet. ED has been associated with heart disease for a long time, and the two conditions share many of the same risk factors and underlying mechanisms.

Especially for younger men who are less likely than older men to think seriously about their heart health, identifying ED as a risk factor for heart disease could improve early detection to prevent dangerous events connected to heart disease, like heart attack and stroke.

In their analysis of the research on the connection between ED and heart disease, researchers found that ED was significantly associated with impaired endothelial function, a measure of how well blood vessels relax, a condition strongly connected to vascular disease.

They also linked ED with increased carotid intimal medial thickness (IMT), which is associated with the early stages of atherosclerosis. Scientists also looked at the link between ED and coronary artery calcium levels, but for now the results are inconclusive.

“Our study supports a more aggressive [heart disease] risk assessment and management for persons with erectile dysfunction, including young men who may otherwise be categorized as low risk due to their young ages,” the authors explained.

Sources: MedlinePlus.gov, SAGE

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
JUN 24, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
JUN 24, 2019
Genetic Predictors of a Failing Heart
Scientists have discovered a gene, PPP1R3A, that may be the ultimate protection against heart failure.  Evidence shows that once this gene turns on, i...
JUL 07, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
JUL 07, 2019
Directing Stem Cells to the Heart
Damaged tissue, such as heart cells that have died during a heart attack, could be repaired with stem cells if they are applied in the right way....
JUL 16, 2019
Cardiology
JUL 16, 2019
Probiotics For Hypertension May Become Standard
Today, as it is relatively new frontier within scientific research, the role of the microbiome is up for debate. As scientists grow increasingly more inter...
SEP 10, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
SEP 10, 2019
Gene Mutations Link Flu Infections and Heart Trouble
Sometimes people develop life-threatening heart complications when they're infected with the flu....
JAN 15, 2020
Cardiology
JAN 15, 2020
Women's Blood Vessels Age Faster than Men's, Study shows
Around 75 million Americans have high blood pressure, or roughly 1 in every 3 adults. Now, new research has shown that women’s blood vessels age fast...
FEB 26, 2020
Cardiology
FEB 26, 2020
Why is heart disease the world's leading cause of death?
Heart diseases, also known as cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the number 1 cause of death around the world. In 2016 alone, 17.9 million people died from...
Loading Comments...