ED Isn't Just About Aging, Your Heart Health May Be At Risk

Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is a growing problem in America. Not only does it concern a man's quality of life as he ages, but it may also be a sign of something more troubling. Researchers at Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease in Baltimore believe they may have found a link between ED and heart disease.

JOHNS HOPKINS STUDY LINKS ED WITH DECLINING CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH

Erectile Dysfunction is caused by two primary factors: vascular problems and psychological or emotional stress. The Johns Hopkins study monitored the heart health of 1,900 men, ages 60 to 78. Some had vascular-related ED, while others did not.

The study found that men with vascular-related ED were nearly twice as likely to suffer from a cardiac event, such as a heart attack, stroke, or sudden cardiac death. While the percentages weren't high (6% as compared to 3%), the correlation still causes concern.

SPOTTING HEART DISEASE EARLIER IN AGING MEN

The study was especially troubling, as the correlation was seen regardless of other risk factors, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking history. Dr. Michael Blaha, director of the study, confirms suspicions that "ED may be a sign of subclinical cardiovascular dysfunction."

Vascular impotence stems from arterial blockages that prevent proper blood flow. Until this study, cardiovascular health and vascular ED were often considered mutually exclusive. But the study will change the way doctors treat ED, and how they can spot cardiovascular issues in men over 40.

ED SHOULD BE TREATED AS A WARNING SIGN FOR HEART DISEASE

Dr. Balha suggests physicians should continue to manage risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol in ED patients. However, understanding the correlation between heart disease and ED can help doctors diagnose and treat both sooner.

Dr. Richard Becker, professor of medicine at the University of Cincinnati, believes the study should change the way physicians view their patients. He says, "Health care providers should consider including ED as a component of assessing cardiovascular risk among middle-aged men." If you suffer from erectile dysfunction, you may want to seek care from a cardiologist to ensure your long-term health is in check.