Erectile dysfunction – the inability to get and keep an erection firm enough for sex – can be an early warning sign of current or future health problems. Likewise, if you have heart disease, getting the right treatment may help with erectile dysfunction. Understand the connection and what you can do about it.
How are erectile dysfunction and heart problems linked?
In the past, the buildup of plaque in the arteries of your body was believed to be the reason why erectile dysfunction often precedes heart problems. The idea was that plaque build up reduces blood flow in the penis, making an erection difficult. However, experts now believe that erectile dysfunction preceding heart problems is more often due to the dysfunction of the inner lining of the blood vessels and smooth muscle. Endothelial dysfunction causes inadequate blood supply to the heart and impaired blood flow to the penis, and aids in the development of atherosclerosis.
How Strong is the Connection between Erectile Dysfunction and Heart Problems?
Erectile dysfunction does not always indicate an underlying heart problem. However, research suggests that men with erectile dysfunction who have no obvious cause, such as trauma, and who have no symptoms of heart problems should be screened for heart disease before starting any treatment.
What are the Risk Factors?
Besides sharing a common disease process, erectile dysfunction and heart disease also share many risk factors, including:
- Diabetes – Men who have diabetes are at high risk of erectile dysfunction and heart disease.
- Tobacco Use – Smoking increases your risk of developing vascular disease and can cause erectile dysfunction.
- Alcohol Use – Drinking too much alcohol can cause heart disease and might contribute to other causes of heart disease, such as high blood pressure or abnormal cholesterol. Alcohol also impairs erections.
- High Blood Pressure – Over time, high blood pressure damages the lining of your arteries and accelerates the process of vascular disease. Certain high blood pressure medications can also affect sexual function.
- High Cholesterol – A high level of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis.
- Age – As you get older, erections might take longer to develop and might not be as firm. The younger you are, the more likely that erectile dysfunction signals a risk of heart disease. Men younger than 50 are at especially high risk. In men older than 70, erectile dysfunction is much less likely to be a sign of heart disease.
- Obesity – Excess weight typically worsens other risk factors for heart disease.
- Low testosterone – Men with low testosterone have higher rates of erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular disease compared to men with normal testosterone levels.
If you are suffering from erectile dysfunction, then get in touch with us here at Moorgate Andrology on 0330 808 1968 and we can book you a consultation to see a Urology.