Your heart and erectile dysfunction: A close relationship

An early warning sign!

If your partner finds that he has a problem either maintaining or getting an erection, it is likely that your first thought is ‘better call at the pharmacy and get some Viagra’, it almost definitely won’t be ‘oh no! My man has heart disease’.

Whilst the problem can be caused by stress, anxiety, excessive drinking of alcohol, medication, diabetes or hypertension it has been found to have a strong link to cardiovascular disease.

There has been an international study of more than 1500 men who were diagnosed with cardiovascular disease.  It was established that among the group of men, any who suffered from erectile dysfunction were twice as likely as those who did not suffer impotence to be at risk of heart attack or stroke.  The study proved what had only been alluded to in previous studies and so confirmed that erectile dysfunction of possible future vascular disease.  In itself, it created a strong argument for including investigations into the cardiovascular health of an individual when he presents in the consulting room with erectile dysfunction. 

 

Erections - how do they work?

An erection is achieved when, following sensory and mental stimulation, the blood vessels of the corpora cavernosa open up which allows blood to engorge the tissue.  As the blood is trapped under pressure, the tissue becomes hard and so an erection is created.

One of the symptoms of cardiovascular disease is atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries.  This involves a ‘furring’ up of the inside of the arteries with fat, cholesterol and other substances (plaques).  This, in turn, can restrict blood flow which leads to a restriction in the volume of blood flowing to the penis which can result in the inability to get or maintain an erection.

Atherosclerosis also increases your risk of a heart attack and stroke and so erectile dysfunction is one of the early warning signs and so if you are experiencing erectile dysfunction it is important that you consult a doctor in order that any underlying causes such as this or diabetes can be detected and treated.

 

What is the connection between erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular disease?

Erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular disease share the same risk factors which include:

 

Age

In the case of age, the link is stronger than you may think in that if a man experiences erectile dysfunction at a relatively early age it may signify an underlying heart condition and so it is a very valuable red flag warning!

If however, you experience erectile dysfunction over the age of 70 it is far less likely to be a marker for cardiovascular disease

 

High Blood Pressure

If a person's blood pressure is elevated for an extended period of time, the lining of the arteries can become damaged and this will interfere with the flow of blood, as a result, it may affect your ability to achieve and maintain an erection.  It is believed that as many as 30% of men suffering hypertension also experience erectile dysfunction

 

High Blood Cholesterol

High levels of cholesterol in the blood can also damage the arteries and the build-up will clog the arteries and restrict blood flow.  Again, this can be a factor in erectile dysfunction and heart disease

 

Smoking

As we are all aware, tobacco damages many organs including the heart.  It is also responsible for damaging the arteries increasing risk of atherosclerosis and so, in turn, increasing the risk of erectile dysfunction

 

Obesity

Again, we are all aware of the risks of being overweight including the risk of heart disease, atherosclerosis, circulation problems and so sexual dysfunction

 

Diabetes

According to a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology, it was found that were type 2 diabetics exhibited erectile dysfunction but no signs of cardiovascular disease, it was a good prediction that these patients would, in fact, develop heart disease.  People with diabetes are also more likely to develop erectile dysfunction than those without diabetes

 

Depression

According to an article published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, depression has been linked to both cardiovascular disease and erectile dysfunction

 

Sources

  1. Erectile Dysfunction Often a warning Sign of Heart Diseasehttps://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/erectile-dysfunction-often-a-warning-sign-of-heart-disease-201110243648
  2. Let's Talk About Erectile Dysfunction https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/wellbeing/erectile-dysfunction
  3. Impotence ‘a sign of heart problems’ https://www.nhs.uk/news/heart-and-lungs/impotence-a-sign-of-heart-problems/
  4. Erectile Dysfunction may be warning sign for more serious health problems https://www.heart.org/en/news/2018/07/11/erectile-dysfunction-may-be-warning-sign-for-more-serious-health-problems

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