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ED and the Heart

Studies in the past 15 years have documented that patients with heart disease are at an increased risk of developing ED. The exact mechanism by which this occurs is not entirely known, and several theories were entertained including atherosclerosis of the penile arteries, decreased blood flow to the penis because of decreased cardiac output or perhaps a side effect of the usual heart medications. Among men aged 40 to 49, new heart disease patients were 50 times more likely to have ED compared to men over 70 who were only 5 times more likely to have ED.

Investigators then looked as to whether ED, in the absence of other obvious underlying conditions (following prostate cancer surgery for example), could be a predictor of cardiovascular disease.  A 2005 study demonstrated that ED might be closely linked to endothelial dysfunction. This situation occurs when the inner lining of blood vessels becomes inflamed, perhaps from cholesterol deposits, a condition which is closely linked to heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

More recently a study in 2013 found that ED is associated with heart disease and early death in men, both with and without a history of documented cardiovascular disease, suggesting that screening for heart disease in men presenting with the complaint of ED could have perhaps identified early onset of cardiovascular disease. Furthermore men with severe ED and without known or documented history of heart disease had a 35% greater risk of being hospitalized for heart problems and a 93% higher chance of dying than men without ED.

At Advanced Urological Care, all men who present with the complaint of ED, without any previous underlying conditions or obvious reason for having ED, are screened for cardiovascular disease. In this scenario we believe that ED is a symptom and not only a diagnosis, and therefore additional diagnostic studies are warranted, before prescribing ED medications such as Cialis or Viagra.