Erectile Dysfunction is a condition that many men find embarrassing or uncomfortable to talk about and keep to themselves. It’s a condition men would like to ignore; sweep under the rug and blame it on things such as stress or fatigue. They most likely will either convince themselves it is temporary (as their partner will certainly reassure them it is) or go online and order some Viagra.
Viagra (or Cialis or Levitra) will help for a while. These drugs may help to open the arteries a little, but their main function is in a different part of the vascular process that allows for erection (the corpus cavernosa). As long as the blockage to blood flow in the artery is only partial, these drugs will help. But, if atherosclerosis is not addressed, it will progress and eventually block so much flow that even these drugs won’t help to achieve or maintain erections.
Erectile Dysfunction – A Strong Predictor of Death
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a strong predictor of death from all causes and of heart attack, stroke and heart failure in men with cardiovascular disease (CVD), German researchers reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
In the first study to show that ED is predictive of death and cardiovascular outcomes, researchers found that men with CVD and ED (compared to those without ED) were twice as likely to suffer death from all causes and 1.6 times more likely to suffer the composite of cardiovascular death, heart attack, stroke and heart failure hospitalization. More specifically, they were:
- 1.9 times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease;
- twice as likely to have a heart attack;
- 1.2 times more likely to be hospitalized for heart failure; and
- 1.1 times more likely to have a stroke.
ED is closely associated with the endothelial dysfunction that occurs in atherosclerosis and the vascular disturbances such as the build-up of plaque that precedes events such as heart attack and stroke, Böhm said.
“Men with ED going to a general practitioner or a urologist need to be referred for a cardiology workup to determine existing cardiovascular disease and proper treatment,” Böhm said.
The same things that cause blockages in the arteries to the heart and brain cause blockages in the penile artery. But, because the penile artery is smaller than these other arteries, the first symptoms of such blockages may be felt in the penis. So, the earliest sign of this process of atherosclerosis may be ED. This doesn’t mean that only the penile artery is affected, it means that is the first place the disease of atherosclerosis may be presenting itself.
Erectile Dysfunction and Low Testosterone
Research presented at the European Congress of Endocrinology shows for the first time that men with erectile dysfunction and low testosterone have a higher than normal risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
Researcher Dr Giovanni Corona said: “Our work shows that screening for testosterone deficiency in men with erectile dysfunction may help clinicians identify those at higher risk from cardiovascular events. However, at the moment we can’t say whether low testosterone levels are the cause or the consequence of this higher risk. Our work indicates that if you have erectile dysfunction, and if you have a very low testosterone level, then you are up to 7 times more likely to die from a major cardiac event than if you have erectile dysfunction and normal testosterone levels. It may be worth screening the testosterone levels of men who come to clinics with erectile dysfunction, as this may be a way of identifying those who are most at risk from heart disease.
Lifestyle Changes Can Improve Male Sexual Function
Lifestyle Changes Can Improve Male Sexual Function, According To New Study. Lifestyle changes like increase of physical activity, stricter dietary control and other measures for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and diabetes may prevent decrease in erectile function.
What to do if you have Erectile Dysfunction
1 – See your doctor
ED may be a sign of a larger disease of atherosclerosis. Your doctor should test you for things that can be contributing factors such as those listed here.
2 – Have your blood sugar checked
High blood sugar, or Diabetes, is a large risk factor for atherosclerosis and also damages the nerves, causing a double whammy effect on erections. If your blood sugar is high, it can be treated with diet, oral medications or insulin.
3 – Have your blood pressure checked
High blood pressure is often asymptomatic, but still causes damage to blood vessels making them more likely to be clogged with plaque.
4 – Find out if you are overweight
Being overweight is a common risk for atherosclerosis. Even without such hardening of the arteries, studies have shown that losing weight directly improves erectile function.
5 – Have your cholesterol checked
High cholesterol is a key risk factor for building up fatty plaque in the arteries, including the penile artery. Your total cholesterol as well as LDL, HDL and Triglycerides should all be checked if you have ED. If your LDL or Triglycerides are high or your HDL is low, treating these with diet, exercise, supplements and/or medications could reverse some of the plaque build up and improve symptoms of ED.
6 – Have your Testosterone checked
Low Testosterone is another cause of ED, separate from the atherosclerosis cause discussed here. But low T can and should be treated, thereby improving ED.
7 – Ask your doctor about other tests for cardiovascular health
If you are experiencing Erectile Dysfunction, please don’t ignore it. Call your doctor ASAP and schedule an appointment. Don’t die of embarrassment.