Could ED Be a Warning Sign for Other Diseases?

January 15, 2020

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a condition that can slowly chip away at the vitality and spirit of a man. And in the last twenty to thirty years, the rate of ED diagnoses has increased dramatically, especially among younger men. In fact, according to a study from the Journal of Sexual Medicine, one out of every four erectile dysfunction patients are under 40 years old. So just because you’re young, doesn’t mean you’re not going to get it.

Erectile dysfunction treatment and diagnosis are some of the most researched conditions in urology and some of the top reasons men seek out medical care from their urologist. It’s a condition that has to do with a lot of factors and although it’s complex, it is treatable.

Erectile dysfunction symptoms are two-fold. It includes difficulty achieving an erection and/or difficulty maintaining an erection. Achieving and maintaining an erection is a complex process involving psychological impulses from the brain, adequate levels of the male sex hormone testosterone, a functioning nervous system, and adequate and healthy blood vessels in the penis. All of which can have an impact on your ability to achieve and maintain an erection.

We’ve said in the past that some causes of erectile dysfunction have to do with being unhealthy and living a sedentary lifestyle. Furthermore, research has begun to show that ED might also be an early indicator of heart disease.

ED Is a Bigger Problem Than You Might Think

There is some evidence that indicates that ED may be more than just a disruption in the bedroom. Links to ED diagnosis and heart disease are well-known, but a study published by the Journal of Sexual Medicine just made the connection even more clear.

If ED symptoms and/or diagnosis are present, it may indicate more than just trouble in the bedroom and a decreased quality of life. A meta-analysis of studies on over 150,000 men compared men with and without ED. The study demonstrated that men with ED have a 59% higher risk of heart disease (coronary artery disease or atherosclerosis), a 34% higher risk of stroke, and a 33% higher risk from dying from any cause.

This being said, erectile dysfunction can develop many years before any symptoms of heart disease or attack. Potentially, persistent ED symptoms may be the first warning sign of underlying heart disease.

The Relation Between ED and Heart Disease

The penile artery that provides blood flow to the penis is smaller than most other blood vessels, therefore, it would be one of the first blood vessels to demonstrate the first signs of heart disease. If the blood vessels to the penis have enough plaque/cholesterol build-up and experience an inability to dilate properly, then they would not be able to supply enough blood flow to achieve or sustain an erection aka ED.

Simple lifestyle changes are the first and most important measures to tackle if you want to intervene in the process of heart disease and/or erectile dysfunction. Quitting smoking, losing the extra weight with an improved diet (plant-based or Mediterranean diet), daily aerobic exercise and decreasing stress are all achievable changes that can greatly reduce the risk of heart disease or ED.

Visiting your doctor annually to check bloodwork for cholesterol, diabetes and even imaging can help assess risks of a cardiovascular event and heart disease well before ED becomes an established problem.

If you are interested in more information regarding the prevention of ED and cardiovascular disease, contact the Austin Urology Institute to schedule an appointment with a provider at 512-694-8888.