New research suggests that men who suffer from erectile dysfunction might be at risk of suffering from different types of heart disease.
In a paper published in the journal Circulation, a team of researchers found that the risk of suffering from cardiac arrest, cardiac death, or non-fatal strokes was doubled for men with erectile dysfunction (ED), as compared to those who didn’t suffer from the condition. This was the main takeaway from the study, which looked at over 1,900 men aged 60 to 78 over a four-year period.
As noted by Medical News Today, the finding was notable, as the risk factors for heart disease — high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome — are similar to those for ED, which affects about 20 percent of men above the age of 20. Even then, the new study marked the first time that researchers looked at erectile dysfunction as a separate risk factor for heart disease.
“Our results reveal that erectile dysfunction is, in and of itself, a potent predictor of cardiovascular risk,” observed senior investigator Michael Blaha, an associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, as quoted in a EurekAlert press release.
“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.”
According to the EurekAlert press release, the men recruited for the study were all part of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, an ongoing project that follows over 6,000 people from different ethnic and racial groups in various United States cities. Over the four-year follow-up period, the researchers recorded a total of 115 heart attacks, strokes, and cardiac arrests, both fatal and non-fatal, and sudden cardiac deaths.
About 6.3 percent of the men who suffered from erectile dysfunction were hit by cardiovascular events during the study period, or more than twice the percentage of men without ED (2.6 percent) who suffered from some form of heart disease in those four years. Adjustments to eliminate the influence of other possible variables had slightly reduced the risk, but still suggested similar results, where men with ED were almost twice as likely to suffer from a heart event than men without ED.
Given the results of his team’s study, Blaha said that men with erectile dysfunction should see their doctor for a “comprehensive” cardiovascular evaluation and should be cognizant of how ED could potentially predict future heart events.
“The onset of ED should prompt men to seek comprehensive cardiovascular risk evaluation from a preventive cardiologist,” Blaha warned.