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7 July 2005
Caution Urged On Erectile Dysfunction Self-Medication
by George Atkinson

Erectile dysfunction can have many causes, including psychological factors such as performance anxiety, exhaustion, low levels of testosterone, depression and drinking too much. But there is also a potentially life-threatening connection between erectile dysfunction and heart disease that can be overlooked by men looking for a quick and easy solution to their problems in the bedroom. The relationship between atherosclerosis - a hardening of the arteries - and erectile problems is well established but doctors are concerned that men wanting to solve their erection problems are overlooking the root cause of the problem and risking heart attack.

Cardiologist Melvyn Rubenfire, from the University of Michigan Health System, said that erectile dysfunction can be a sign that someone has heart disease. "Erectile dysfunction is much more common in people who have cardiovascular risk factors. The critical message is that erectile dysfunction may be a very early sign of atherosclerosis or a risk for heart attacks, strokes and other problems," he said.

Rubenfire says that men should take action to prevent both conditions with changes in diet and exercise. "If you take a look at a population of men between 45 and 60, almost half of them may have erectile dysfunction. And if you look at those who have erectile dysfunction, lack of exercise, a high-fat diet and hypertension are all very common," he said. "Prevention is the key." Rubenfire wants to encourage men in this age group to practice a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a reduction of fat in one's diet, adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables, and receiving a regular health screening.

Rubenfire underscored the importance of seeking medical help for erectile dysfunction issues, saying that men should treat it as a potentially serious medical problem. The quick-fix of buying impotence drugs from the Internet is risky as heart disease may go undiagnosed. "They should talk to their doctors rather than just seeking information from the Internet, and they should never take medication from a friend or that they have bought online without a prescription," he said.




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