"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.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) - defined as the inability to achieve or maintain an erection for satisfactory sexual intercourse - affects almost 20 percent of men over age 20, according to research. Investigators adjusted for major risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, family history of CHD, cholesterol levels, and systolic blood pressure, as well as use of lipid-lowering and antihypertensive medication, beta blockers, and even depression.
Of 1914 participants (mean age 69 years) in MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis), half (45.8%) reported ED symptoms.
Now, researchers claim that impotence is a better indicator of the world's leading killer than other risk factors, such as high cholesterol or blood pressure. He recommends that doctors should begin performing targeted cardiovascular screenings in male patients who report ED, and that the predisposing factors for heart attack and stroke (mentioned above) should be managed far more aggressively in this group than is the current standard.
A new study now finds that men who suffer from erectile dysfunction are twice as likely to have a heart attack, cardiac arrest or stroke. The link between ED and heart disease appears to be "a two-way street", Blaha said.
'It is incredible how many men avoid the doctor and ignore early signs of cardiovascular disease, but present for the first time with a chief complaint of ED.
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The link between impotence and heart disease appears to be "a two-way street", Blaha said, given that men who have had a heart attack appear to face a higher risk for ED.
"While there are effective treatments for ED, one must never overlook an opportunity to ask a simple question: 'Why?' In addition, men should be aware of the potential implications of ED and inform their provider", Becker said.
Around 20% of men over age 20 experience erectile dysfunction in the USA, and the rates are higher among older men. Adjustments to eliminate the influence of other possible variables had slightly reduced the risk, but still suggested similar results, where men with ED were nearly twice as likely to suffer from a heart event than men without ED.
For men, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking or metabolic syndrome are all warning factors of heart disease, which affects a quarter of men under the age of 40 in the United States.
"The onset of ED should prompt men to seek comprehensive cardiovascular risk evaluation from a preventive cardiologist", Blaha says.