Many people think of erectile dysfunction (ED) as a sexual issue, but that is not always the case. Facts suggest there is a link between erectile dysfunction and other medical conditions including cardiac disease. In fact, ED may be one of the first signs of cardiovascular problems for men.
How Strong Is The Link?
According to multiple studies, there is a strong link between a man having ED and then suffering from cardiovascular disease. Having ED can predict that a man will likely have heart disease problems within five years.
Having erectile dysfunction is as much of a risk factor for heart disease as smoking or family history of cardiac problems. Looking at it from another angle, one study showed that 57% of men who had bypass surgery and 64% of men who had a heart attack had experienced ED earlier in their life.
Causes Of ED
Erectile dysfunction is the inability to attain and sustain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. Causes of ED range from psychological, emotional, and physical.
Blood vessel problems are the leading cause of erectile dysfunction, and many researchers believe erections can serve as a sign of a man’s overall health, including trouble with the heart or elsewhere.
In order for a man to get and keep an erection, extra blood must be delivered to the penis and kept there long enough for sexual intercourse. If something interferes with the blood flowing to the penis, there can be no erection. Atherosclerosis clogs the arteries causing angina, heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular problems. This disease causes cholesterol filled plaque in the arteries and seriously reduces blood flow.
Common Risk Factors
There are similar risk factors for both ED and cardiac disease.
They include the following:
- Age can contribute to a man’s sexual function. However, if a man experiences ED under the age of 50, he is at a higher risk for a cardiac problem.
- Diabetes is a risk factor for both ED and heart disease.
- High blood pressure damages the arteries and increases the development of vascular disease. In addition, certain blood pressure medications can affect sexual function.
- Smoking increases the risk of both conditions.
- Alcohol impairs erections and excessive alcohol causes heart disease, high blood pressure, and abnormal levels of cholesterol.
- Obesity worsens all the other risk factors for heart disease.
- Low testosterone levels cause men to have higher rates of ED and cardiovascular disease compared to men with normal levels.
Words To The Wise
There are some obvious changes men can make to lower their personal risk of erectile dysfunction and heart disease.
Lowering cholesterol levels is a great start.
Stop smoking! Increase exercise. Limit or avoid alcohol. Maintain a healthy weight.
Talk with your physician about how to alter your diet and make other healthy lifestyle changes.
Schedule a visit with Oxford Urology Associates in (662) 234-1448 to find out if an underlying heart issue is causing your erectile dysfunction.