Erectile Dysfunction Linked to Heart Problems in Older Men
Older men with erectile dysfunction (ED) could be at higher risk for heart attack and stroke, scientists report.
Their study, published in June in the journal Circulation, found that this link is strong even after considering other heart-related risk factors, like high blood pressure, smoking, and high cholesterol.
The research team followed over 1,750 men between the ages of 60 and 78 for an average of four years. During this time, 115 cardiovascular events occurred. These events were more common in men with ED.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) – the inability to get an erection firm enough for intercourse – is linked to a greater risk for cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke in older men, according to a recent study.
The research team found that this link is strong even when other heart-related risk factors, such as high cholesterol, smoking, and high blood pressure, are accounted for.
How is erectile dysfunction linked to heart problems?
ED and heart disease have a lot in common. Obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, and metabolic syndrome can play roles in both conditions. Until this study, however, researchers did not know much about ED as an “independent predictor” of heart disease. In other words, they weren’t sure how much ED was involved on its own.
The research team used data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). (Atherosclerosis is the medical term for “hardening of the arteries,” occurring when plaque builds up on artery walls.) They started by looking at the records of 1,914 men who ranged in age from 60 to 78. About 46% of these men had ED.
After excluding men who had problems with heart disease before the study, the researchers followed 1,757 (average age 69) men for about four years.
During that time, 115 cardiovascular events occurred among the group. These events included heart attacks, strokes, cardiac arrests, and sudden cardiac deaths.
Such events were more common in men with ED, affecting 6.3% of that group compared to 2.6% of the men without ED.
Even when the effects of potential risk factors like smoking and diabetes were removed from the analysis, cardiovascular risk for men with ED was still almost double that of men without ED.
The researchers recommended that men with ED be screened for heart disease and its risk factors.
In a news release, lead author Michael Blaha MD said, “Our results reveal that erectile dysfunction is, in and of itself, a potent predictor of cardiovascular risk. Our findings suggest that clinicians should perform further targeted screening in men with erectile dysfunction, regardless of other cardiac risk factors and should consider managing any other risk factors — such as high blood pressure or cholesterol — that much more aggressively.”
The study was published in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, in June 2018.
To learn more about the link between ED and heart disease, please see these links:
ED and Heart Trouble
How Do Certain Diseases Lead to Erectile Dysfunction?
American College of Cardiology
Rubenfire, Melvyn, MD, FACC
“Erectile Dysfunction as Predictor of Future CVD Events”
(June 19, 2018)
American Heart Association
“Erectile dysfunction means increased risk for heart disease, regardless of other risk factors”