For years, men have voiced frustration when their medical providers insisted on a cardiac workup prior to initiating an ED prescription. Some thought it was because they’d have a heart attack during sex. But it’s not. Erectile dysfunction is a vascular issue, and if the vessels of the penis are compromised, how does one know his heart vessels aren’t as well?
Now in a recent study from John Hopkins School of Medicine found an increase risk of stroke, heart attack and cardiac arrests in those men who suffered from erectile dysfunction. Study author, Michael Blaha, professor of Medicine, states, “Our findings suggest that clinicians should perform further targeted screening in men with erectile dysfunction, regardless of other cardiac risk factors and should consider managing any other risk factors — such as high blood pressure or cholesterol — that much more aggressively.”
Last December, a study published in the Journal of Vascular Medicine, found the same risk factors leading to erectile dysfunction are also culprits in heart disease.
Risk factors shared by both erectile dysfunction and heart disease include:
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- Men over age 45
- Physical inactivity
- Family history of heart disease
Last year, researchers from Mount Sinai Medical Center, Florida International University and Baptist Health South Florida reviewed multiple studies and found a link between erectile dysfunction and compromised blood vessels whose endothelium (lining) demonstrated impaired vessel relaxation. This is necessary for both erections as well as blood flow to the heart and rest of the body.
Moreover carotid media-intima thickness, a marker of atherosclerosis, appeared to be correlated to erectile dysfunction as well.
Both studies remind us that if one bodily function is impaired, other organs may be quietly suffering the same impairment.
I like to credit the pharmaceutical companies that created erectile dysfunction drugs with saving millions of men’s lives as:
- Men who would refuse to come into any doctor’s office now had an incentive to, resulting in a long-overdue check-up
- Those who saw providers who required an EKG or diabetic screening, and unknowingly suffered from a serious cardiac risk factor, could now be diagnosed.
- ED drugs allowed those men who couldn’t enjoy sex to now get some much-needed physical activity
Young men aren’t immune to cardiovascular disease and need to be screened as well if they have issues starting or maintaining erections.