Erectile dysfunction (ED) is linked to greater cardiovascular risk, regardless of other risk factors like cholesterol, smoking and high blood pressure, according to new research published on Monday in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.
The study followed more than 1,900 men aged 60 to 78 over four years, and found that those who reported ED were twice as likely to experience heart attacks, cardiac arrests, sudden cardiac death and fatal or non-fatal strokes.
“Our findings suggest that clinicians should perform further targeted screening in men with erectile dysfunction, regardless of other cardiac risk factors,” said the study’s senior investigator Michael Blaha, associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
ED, defined as the inability to achieve or maintain an erection for satisfactory sexual intercourse, affects nearly 20 percent of men over age 20, according to research.
Cardiovascular disease and ED share common risk factors, including obesity, hypertension, smoking, diabetes and metabolic syndrome, a condition marked by a cluster of features such as elevated blood sugar, hypertension and excess abdominal fat, according to the research.
During the four-year follow-up in the study, there were a total of 115 fatal and non-fatal heart attacks, fatal and non-fatal strokes, cardiac arrests and sudden cardiac deaths.
A greater proportion of men who reported ED (6.3 per cent) suffered heart attacks, cardiac arrests or strokes than men who did not report ED (2.6 per cent).
When the investigators adjusted their analysis to eliminate the potential influence of other risk factors, that risk was somewhat lessened but still markedly higher: Men with ED were nearly twice as likely to suffer cardiovascular events than men without ED.